Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

May 10, 2013

The annual dandelion whine

By Rebecca Todd

— It happens every year at this time; I make a little dandelion whine. So here goes.

It occurred to me while doing yard work yesterday that I am partially to blame for my ongoing battle with the evil yellow menace, also known as dandelion season. I remember as a child I would pick what I thought were pretty yellow flowers and present a lovely bouquet of them to my mother. Later when they turned to fluffy white puffs, I would blow on them and make it “snow.” Essentially, I was spreading the seeds. If only I had picked more bouquets and made less snow, I may not be in my current predicament; knee-deep in the cursed things.

I wish I could go back to visit my 6-year-old self and explain things to her. I would tell her to stop spreading the seeds because she will regret it in her later years. But if I know her, and I think I do, she would probably just kick me and run away. So I guess I will just continue to handle things by spreading weed killer, digging, cursing and possibly setting my yard on fire. That’ll show ‘em.

It’s interesting to note that dandelions are not native to North America. (It’s not really, but I say it is interesting to convince you that the boring history lesson I am about to lay on you just because I need filler for my column is not totally pointless).

Dandelions originated in Asia and quickly spread into Europe because of a bunch of darn kids blowing on the puff balls and spreading the seeds. Dandelions are so prolific; the spread only took a couple of hours.

As we all know, the Europeans are a wacky, fun-loving bunch. When the French moved to Canada, they brought dandelions with them as kind of a gag gift for the natives. The Spanish did the same in Mexico and they all had a good laugh. Then the Germans — we all know how madcap those Germans are — thought it would be funny to bring dandelions to America. Quite frankly, the joke was a little old and no longer funny by then.

So within a couple of minutes, thanks to all the European children blowing on the puff balls, the dandelions had taken over North America. The United States would never be the same.

Do I hold it against the Europeans for saddling us with the yellow menace? Yes. Yes I do. It is because of them that I spend every spring engaged in a bitter battle. Sadly, it is a battle that I am losing.

Today I spent several hours digging dandelions out of my flower beds. They are the most evil of all plants. It’s an impossible task because dandelion roots grow underground for about six hundred feet and if you don’t get absolutely all of them, they will regenerate and grow a new dandelion. Basically, they are the zombies of the plant world; the undead of botany; the things that will not DIE.

Still, clearing them out of flower beds is the easy part. It’s the ones that have taken over my yard that I can’t stand. Living across from a field of them doesn’t help. Every time the wind blows, more and more dandelions take root in my yard. It’s a never-ending battle.

My 6-year-old self would love it.

— Rebecca Todd is a freelance writer and the author of the book “What’s the Point?” available at booklocker.com. Contact her at btodd@tds.net.