Monday, May 16, 2011
The first crop of dandelions has come and gone. The bright yellow flowers (admittedly cheerful) have turned to white puffballs and the individual seeds have parachuted to other environs. The name dandelions stems from the fact that the leaves resemble lions' teeth—dent-de-lion in French . . . I remember my grandparents and the neighboring families “harvesting” the first spring crop for “a mess of greens” which I never liked; too bitter. They never used the plants in their mountain neighborhood that may have been visited by dogs or cats, however; rather we drove further out into the country where, one supposed, the greenery was pristine . . . I was a 'cruit at Ft. Knox, Ky., in the spring of 1960 when I heard a story that was going around. Supposedly some foreign dignitary had visited the base a few years previous and had remarked on the abundance of yellow flowers blanketing the area. The base commander allegedly took the remark as a criticism so his self-appointed aim was to rid the base of dandelions. It sounded like a myth, but—sure enough—as the first flower appeared we were all instructed to carry the knife from our mess kit everywhere we went. During “breaks” or a lapse in the training program we were not permitted to rest. We were assigned the (impossible) task of digging up every dandelion we could find . . . I have often wondered if there are any dandelions at Fr. Knox today . . .