Friday, August 17, 2012

Dent de lion

"Momma had a baby and the head popped off."

Remember the childhood chant? The dandelion caught between finger and thumb. The flick of the thumb. The yellow flowerhead sent flying?

Ah, talk about the flower of youth. What would kids have done without dandelions?

Remember dandelion clocks? Blowing at dandelion flowers that had gone to seed? The number of breaths it took to blow away all the parachutes was the time of day.

In another variation, the number of breaths was the number of kids you would have when you grew up.

And -- how deliciously diabolical! -- dandelion radar. You asked an unsuspecting friend to hide a piece of dandelion stem on her person. The dandelion radar -- a downy puffball -- would find it. "Radar says it's in your mouth." "Nope." "Radar says it's in your mouth." "Nope." "Come on, I'm sure of it. Radar says it's in your mouth." "No, see!" Mouth opens. In goes puffball. A gagging mouthful of parachutes.

What mother of yesteryear did not relish receiving a dandelion bouquet from a child? What child of yesteryear did not make dandelion chains, or dandelion wreaths? Do they still do it today?

The plant with Crayola-yellow flower. Popsicle-sticky sap. Puffable parachutes. Dandelions were pickable. Dandelions were plentiful. Dandelions were available for summer games all summer long.

And now they are my enemy. Give them an inch and they'll take over our grassy terrace, carpet it with carotene. Their appetite for existence is unrelenting. The tooth of the lion.

Me against them. Get 'em in ones and twos before they go to seed. But gotta be quick. Turn your back and they'll make a flower. Lightning fast – overnight! -- they will arrange 100000000000000000000000 atoms (by my rough calculation) into a yellow blossom, and then – equally fast -- rearrange them into a parachute regiment of seeds. The force that through the green fuse drives the flower! The ubiquitous, unceasing, irresistible force of life!

Me versus the driving engine of evolution.