One person’s weed is another’s flower

It’s that beautiful time of year when all of nature bursts into vibrant color.

The flowers bloom, trees cast their shadows for warm days, shrubs have regained their glory, wildflowers have sprouted, grass is growing, weeds are multiplying, and dandelions are back. The sounds of gas mowers can be heard night and day, while others are fertilizing and proactive in weed control for that groomed lawn.

What may seem like weeds to some may seem like flowers to others. I spent many happy hours as a child making clover bracelets and necklaces. The girls nearby have all made their summer clothes accessory with clover “jewelry”. Dandelions were mixed in for a little extra color. My dad would religiously spray the dandelions while my mom took to total combat mode and dug them out of the ground.

Dad had a philosophical view of dandelions because he knew he could do nothing about all the flying seeds from the neighbor’s house. He just sprayed weed-killer on our dandelions and accepted how nature designed the dandelion to “spread” itself.

Mom, on the other hand, spent many moments of frustration over our neighbor’s inactivity to the little yellow invaders. Especially mom did not like her in her flower gardens. That was the cause for all out of war.

Mom loved to weed her flower gardens. Weeding was her stress reliever. She looked at weeding as getting rid of problems one weed at a time, and she was good at it.

One day, however, she was very busy and asked me to graze the flower gardens. I was about 7 years old and felt honored that Mom would entrust me with such an important task. Luckily, I attacked the weeds with a vengeance, as I had seen my mother do many times. I was amazed at how many small dandelions appeared along the rock border of the flower gardens. I knew that none of those yellow burglars would survive under my sharp eyes. They would lose, and I would be shrouded in glory for having “saved” my mother’s flowers from a advancing enemy.

After I was done, I slowly walked back across the entire ground to make sure there were no survivors. A heap of dead dandelion seeds lay on the ground swelling in the sun. Mission accomplished.

Around that time, my father came out to see the progress I was making. He looked at my radiant face, and then he saw the pile of “killed in action” horsetails. His eyebrows went up, his eyes widened, and he just nodded his head and turned around to go back home without a word.

Soon mom came out, explored the grounds, thanked me, scooped up the fallen dandelions and gave me a dollar as a tip for a job well done. My parents’ reactions were not quite what I expected. I did not receive a hug from a hero or cries of glory.

That night I got up to drink some water and heard my parents talking in their bedroom. Dad said how he did not have the heart to tell me that I had picked up the new flower border that mom had just planted. Mom agreed that it was not my fault because the new seedlings looked like young horse flowers. Mom said she should have explained the difference and told me she had planted seed for a new border. I had attacked their new frontier instead of the terrible real enemy – the dandelions. What looked like a weed had indeed been a flower.

A few days later mom asked me to help her seeds to make a new border. Mom then started teaching me lessons about what was and was not.

Years flew by and soon I was a mother with flower gardens and yellow invaders in my own grass. Somehow I just did not have the zeal to end every yellow speck I saw in my garden after my 2 year old son proudly presented me with a bouquet of dandelions. The love in his eyes swelled my heart. Our neighbor had a growing dandelion in her yard. Adopting my father’s philosophy, I treated them but did not declare them all war. The photo of my son giving me his little bouquet of dandelions was a deterrent to prevent a complete attack as my mother had joined her fearful enemy invader. My neighbor was pretty comfortable with the “enemy” in his lawn.

As dandelions thrive in your neighbor’s garden, and war seems impossible to win, I have a battle strategy plan for you to consider. Over the years, there have been many articles written about the kinds of edible things you can make with dandelions, such as wine, jelly, fertilizers, oil, honey, syrup, blossom cookies and attachments for salads. Maybe you and your neighbor could go into the dandelion wine business as another dandelion business that would generate a wonderful peace treaty and benefit your paperbacks. The next time you look at the yellow field in your neighbor’s yard, think about the possibilities that those little yellow nuggets offer.

You can just live next to a gold mine. If only Mom had known.

Kim Fortune is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Huron Daily Tribune. She can be reached via email at [email protected]

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