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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Pennies for Dandelions

I have always said: if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a dandelion. They are pretty; cheerful; bright; charming in their ability to change into delightful forms; there is no getting rid of them and..., children love them! Children would play with me.

If a bunny comes along and eats me - C’est la vie - and so are the cycles of life. I have seen bunnies methodically pick the blooms and starting with the cut end of the stem, it slowly disappeared into the bunny’s wiggly mouth until an instant when there was nothing but the yellow button flower covering its mouth and nose, then it disappears. Immediately on to the next one go the hungry hares.

The British have English Daisies in their lawns; I wonder if they suffer the same objections and prejudices as our dandelions.

I fought the tough, tenacious things for years, but they have won. I remember seeing in an old “Horticulture” magazine a photograph of Christopher Lloyd sitting in his garden, and right there beside his right foot was a bright and shining little dandelion. I remember thinking: I’m not the only one, then. Even the rich and famous and accomplished gardener has them.

When our grandchildren were little and still thought a penny was a lot of money, I let them pick the dandelions for one cent each. I gave them a box of small zip lock plastic bags. I said to them, “Now, you know how to count to a hundred, don’t you?” Oh, yes, they were proud of their new knowledge and ability in counting… all the way to a hundred! “OK, then each time you pick a flower, put it into a bag and say, ‘one’, ‘two’, etc. all the way until you have put one hundred into the bag. Then zip it up and give it to me.” I explained to them that one hundred flowers meant one hundred pennies, and one hundred pennies was a whole dollar. Their eyes grew large.

“You and your parents are going on vacation this summer, aren’t you? (Heads nodded.) I thought you would like some spending money of your own for the trip and this is an easy way to earn some.” They were so cute with their little fingers and hands all yellow with pollen stacking up bags of wilted green stems and yellow flowers.

“Bobbie, do you want us to pick these, too?” (Holding up a stem with unopened bud attached.) “Yes, those count, too.”

“Bobbie, Bobbie, what if it has two on it like this one. Do I count it one or two?” “Count it as two.” Excitement increases. Little wheels are beginning to turn in mercenary young minds.

Depending on the age and the attention span, I paid out anywhere from $2.00 to $40.00 at a time per child over the years. They may not remember doing that, but Bobbie has pictures in her mind of five little children picking the dandelions. The money was not important. The mental pictures – are priceless.


Helen said...

We English gardeners have daisies and dandelions and clover and moss in my lawns - so you are definately not alone

Anonymous said...

What a delightful story! I love picturing the bunnies with the blooms obscuring their adorable little faces, and the happy grandchildren delightedly picking. I love seeing the beautiful golden "faces" in my own lawn; what I don't love is seeing the seedheads sticking way up making the whole thing look unsightly. But I bribe myself to pull the dandelions--I give them to the chickens, roots and all, and they love the nutrient-rich plants! Maybe the flowers help make their egg yolks such a gorgeous glaceed apricot color. Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories!

Amy said...

That is just so cute =) Thanks for sharing such a great memory.

Barbee' said...

Ah, Helen, so the pretty little daises are maligned, too. I saw them in the lawn of a home we visited, and I thought they were delightful. The owner didn't complain of them, so I thought perhaps they were considered desirable. But that is just my style and I am a bit odd.

After we moved here to this place, I bought a few and planted them, but something ate them totally. So much for my having the charming English Daisies.

OFB, you are so fortunate to live where having chickens is permitted. Your chicks are lucky to have their own gardener who provides good yummy greens. The various species of sparrows I see here love the seeds. We just don't have enough sparrows!

Hi Amy, I enjoyed meandering down memory's lane with you. Thanks for visiting and saying hello.


Great story! It reminds me of a similar one of my own. My sister adored catching butterflies when she was young. A lovely elderly neighbor was an avid gardener. He paid my sister one cent per cabbage butterfly that she caught. Thanks for bringing back my memory of this fine gentleman.

Dirty Knees said...

Personally, I don't think dandelions are all that bad! I have some in my lawn and I think they're pretty. I don't want them in my gardens though, ;-)

Your pasque-flower is very pretty. I have them in many of my gardens. They bloom for a long time and I LOVE their seedheads!

Rachel @ in bloom said...

My Canadian husband picked dandelions for a penny a head as well. I loved your story because I could superimpose a six-year-old Scott on the children. I think the fields of yellow dandelions that I've seen in Canada are lovely, and though I can understand why they're a nuisance, I have (on occasion) blown the wispy seeds all over creation.

Barbee' said...

Melissa: We have a lot of the little white butterflies, too. Cute story about your sister.

DirtyKnees: I rather agree, as you can see they are in the lawn, but I don't want them in the flower beds. Now why couldn't the pasque flower seed heads be as easy, and prolific as the dandelion's.

Rachel: I have blown them, and danced through them kicking up clouds of seeds, too. Downtown there is a fountain designed like a dandelion seed puff. Water spouts out of all the 'seeds' and it makes a round dandelion seed head. Hello, to Scott. Tell him the tradition continued. :)

Melanie said...

What a great story. We bought a weed hound a number of years ago. It was a tool that you stepped on and it removed dandelions from the soil. My kids thought it was so much fun that they'd shoot the dandelions all over the place.

Thanks for the memories and the smile.

J said...

Such a great story, Barbee. Wow, 40 dollars AT A TIME? Wow! Hard-working grandkids!

I love dandelions. We have a gazillion of them, and they are really beautiful. All of ours came out yesterday afternoon.

Thanks for the beautiful post!

Ewa said...

What a great dandelion story :) I wish I have red that years ago when my son was smaller and I could give him similar mental picture. Today he is too big for that, or? is 19 years old too late?

I am new to your blog - discovered by blotanical.com - and I am very happy I did.

Greetings from Poland,

Gail said...

I have Western Daisy, Salvia lyrata, white clover and native sedums in my grass...I can't forget the weeds!

I'm with ourfriendben, I love the sunny Dandelion flower but the seedhead is not attractive, must be in the eye of the beholder!

Such nice stories to tell and remember,


Karen said...

What a great post! Too cute! You put a smile on my face today. :)

Barbee' said...

Melanie: that tool sounds very interesting. I may try to find one and see if we can make a dent in the number of dandelions in front of the house.

J: Thank you for stopping by, and the kind words.

Ewa: Yes, I think 19 is too old, too late. :) How exciting to meet someone in Poland, thank you.

Gail: I think the mix is more interesting than a mono-culture. I would probably find your lawn interesting. We have family living near Nashville and what grows in theirs is different from mine. They even have a few Bluets - I would love to have Bluets in the grass.

Karen: Thank you for your kind comment. I like spreading smiles!

cake said...

i have not seen a rabbit eat a dandelion. i hope i get to someday.

sweet story! your children and grandchildren are very lucky.

Barbee' said...

Thank you, Cake. Here is a link to a rabbit eating a dandelion. It is almost as good as the ones I have seen in my yard.
Click here

Kim said...

"Pennies for Dandelions:" reminds me of what Annie Dillard says about never losing wonder--never losing the ability to pick up a penny like a child--these two things are now linked in my mind and make me feel much better about the dandelions in our yard.

Barbee' said...

Thank you, Kim, for sharing that with us. The only book of Annie Dillard's that I have read is Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, and I enjoyed it immensely. Then I bought it in recorded audio tape form and gave it to our biologist son.

Kerri said...

I'd like to try that with my grandsons. I think they'd love it, but it might cost a pretty penny as our lawn is full of dandelions. I too love their cheerful faces, but they do make the lawn look messy again much too quickly after mowing.
Your story is charming, Barbee, and you write so well. Thanks for sharing these lovely memories. I enjoyed seeing the bunny eat the dandelion :)

Barbee' said...

Kerri: Thank you. You have such a large area, it might break the bank if you tried this idea. Maybe you just need more rabbits. LOL