We had beautiful weather this week but I was indoors for most of it making a stop motion film…something that requires a lot of attention, patience and precision so not my forte but enjoyable all the same. On breaks I sat outside the studio in a stone courtyard which was when I noticed the bright yellow dandelions that had grown up through the cracks in the brickwork.
A friend told me once “Whatever you need is never far away” and when I need something or when I am looking for inspiration I hold that thought in my head. In this way the dandelions, which had cheered me with their sunniness, made it into my film. For the rest of the week I noticed them everywhere, in the ditches as I drove home, in cracks in the pavement, bright yellow suns scattered like measles of happiness across the city and countryside. It was because of this that their sudden disappearance on the last day of the week, along with the sun, was so noticeable.
I wondered then if the dandelions only came out when it was sunny. As a child I would’ve known a lot about the weeds and flowers in the fields near my house but a lot has been forgotten. All I remembered was that dandelions were supposed to make you wet the bed. On reading up I found out a lot more about this happy and useful flower. The name Dandelion apparently comes from the French dent-de-lion (tooth or teeth of the lion) supposedly because of their ragged petals or toothed leaves though there is some controversy over this in circles that debate such things… But dandelions have had quite a few other names too. Such as…
Puffball Monk’s Head
Dog Pisses (because they are found at the edges of footpaths where dogs relieve themselves)
Yellow Gowan ..to name a few.
As it turns out dandelions do close up tightly on the approach of rain or when night falls and they were used to predict the weather. They were also used in folk medicine and are still used to this day. They are a diuretic but have also been used to fight infections and for bile and liver problems and claims have been made for its ability to dissolve kidney stones, cure diarrhea, improve gastro-intestinal health and controlling diabetes among many other. In fact the latin name means Taraxacum Officinale which supposedly means the”Official Remedy for Disorders” but correct me on that if I’m wrong. The whole plant is edible. The leaves are chock full of vitamins and minerals:A,C, K, lecithin, calcium,biotin, potassium, iron and manganese and are still often used in salads. The town of Cumberland in New Jersey is the self-proclaimed dandelion capital of the world. Dandelions are cultivated there, the leaves sold as salad, and they hold an annual Dandelion Festival. In fact there are a number of Dandelion Festivals around the world. Victorians looked on Dandelions as a delicacy and often had them in sandwiches. The roots can be use in soup or roasted, steamed or fried.
They are an ingredient in the British soft drink Dandelion and Burdock-which has its origins in the middle ages and was made with fermented dandelions- and in root beer and there is of course the caffeine free dandelion coffee is made from the root and there is also dandelion tea and dandelion wine.
It is no wonder then that dandelions could also be said to represent our heavens:the flower is the sun, the puffball the moon and the seeds are the stars. They seem to encompass so many elements of life:food, drink, medicine even weather forecasting. One thing is for sure, our world would seem less sunny without them. Some Sources: UCC ( http://faculty.ucc.edu/biology-ombrello/pow/dandelion.htm ) Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taraxacum ) Botanical.com ( http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/d/dandel08.html ) The Leaf Lady.org ( http://www.leaflady.org/health_benefits_of_dandelions.htm )