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dandelions and poppies

30 March, 2011

I’ve just come in from weeding dandelions in my front garden. It’s been neglected for about a year and a half. Where there were once native California wild flowers from spring to fall, there are now just a few stragglers struggling to survive in the tall grass and dandelions. The poppies, however, are growing stronger each spring and spreading far beyond their original position in the garden. I look forward to seeing them trumpet the arrival of spring – even this year.

My father-in-law used to wax poetic about dandelion greens as a tasty side dish and he knew how to make dandelion tea (which he didn’t like), but to me as lovely as dandelions appear at times, they destroy the harmony of my garden so I dig them out. I am not interested in dandelion greens as a meal – though if the economy gets much worse I might.

Unfortunately, the dandelions developed a survival technique (not consciously of course): they grow close to the poppies and dig their long hard roots right into the roots of the poppies, making it extremely difficult to dig them out. I took my long digging tool out to the yard, bent down and started carefully loosening the wet soil – thanks to the long rainy days it was easier than usual. One poppy plant came up when I tugged on the dandelion root, but I patted it back into the ground and hope it will survive. If it doesn’t, it’s roots will still throw up more “offspring” next year.

While working in the garden, I thought of the two drivers who gave me dirty looks while they were breaking the laws of traffic and civility, one stranding me in oncoming traffic and the other simply running a red light as I began my left turn. I’m no prude and I don’t mind occasionally bending rules that don’t endanger anyone’s life and property, but I couldn’t help thinking of them today as an example of the dandelions in the fabric of our society.

This country’s Constitution is based on respect and dignity, and on the value of human life. Without these ideals, I fear we will degenerate into dystopia – a society far worse than Orwell imagined.

On the other hand, I suppose others view poppies as a weed.

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