What Is Wrong With Dandelions, Anyway?

red_bush water beads

2016-05-08 – This is my favorite time of year. Leaves have sprouted on the trees, but they are not full yet so you can still see through the branches to the sky. And the color has not yet settled into green. There are purples and pinks and yellow with blossoms of white and red. On the ground the crocuses have passed and the tulips are open. The grass has gone from tan to green. The air is in the fifties and sixties with warmth to come. And the dandelions are back.

What’s wrong with dandelions, anyway?

I always like their return. The yellow flowers, the white fuzz. What’s not to like?

We have a neighbor who has a perfect lawn, parallel blades of green green grass, each cut to a specified height. They don’t have any dandelions.

We have dandelions.

We have very little grass. The first thing you need to understand is that Chicago lots are pretty small. So the perfect bladed lawn of our neighbor that I just described is not a green expanse where you might hit a ball around. It’s more like the perfect place to play a game of scrabble.

A bunch of years ago, we just dug up what was left of our front yard grass and planted some ground cover and some bushes and some roses. We’ve got some wild tufts of grass in the in-between space and, of course, some dandelions.

The back yards in our neighborhood are two or three times the size of the front yards, depending on whether you have a detached garage on the alley. Still no room for amber waves of grain. We’ve got a little more grass in the back (complete with dandelions), but not much. We have trees, bushes, a small vegetable garden, and a perennial garden. The trees are an insane variety: river birch, gingko, and a white pine. We once had a mulberry tree, but it died when our dog Lefty gnawed away all the bark from the ground to six feet off the ground, but a mulberry bush has sprouted from the roots. We have lilacs that are about to bloom. A six-foot stump of the mulberry tree remains while we ponder the possibility of turning it into some sort of sculpture.

We live on a corner, so we have the standard 25 feet of parkway on the front, but about 125 feet of parkway on the side, the width and depth of our property. In the parkway, we have two sycamores, a red oak, and two red maples. The oak and maples we planted ourselves.

Our back yard is enclosed with a wrought iron fence built by my (now retired) welder brother-in-law with some assistance from my sons. My brother-in-law is now an artist in iron and we have an early foretaste of his art built into our fence. A nesting bird on one rail, an iron hummingbird hovering at the front gate, and iron flowers at the rear.

Many years ago, I built a deck to overlook the backyard garden. Sometimes I sit back there and read. Sometimes I sit on the front step and strum my guitar.

I never do these things, though, in winter.

No dandelions in winter either.

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