"Dandelion - dent de lion - can be found in the dictionary close to dander, as in 'get one's dander up'."
"Dandelions do not increase the value of a house. They'll just take over the grass and there'll be no grass left. The person who says that dandelions are Ookay probably lives in an apartment."
Our neighbour Ron called dandelions Cranbrook's National Flower as we watched them blossoming so gaily along the avenue. I muttered something else less elegant and went back to my futile attempts to uproot the new arrivals.
Now, as far as I can ascertain, neither Canada nor Cranbrook has a floral emblem although George thinks that the Alpine Stinky Wort (stinkwortus alpinus) that Fliss planted in the rockery would be good for Cranbrook because nobody else claims it.
Anyway, I read, after decades of digging up, poisoning, burning and cursing the dandelion - taraxacum horribilis - some parts of Canada are slowly giving up their struggle against the ubiquitous weeds. Why, even in red-neck Calgary, residents can now let their front-yard dandelions flourish without fear of getting ticketed, abused by their neighbours, possibly, but not ticketed.
As long as the flowers are shorter than 15 centimetres, I understood, Calgarians will escape "enforcement action," a change made in light of Alberta's recent removal of dandelions from its official weed hit-list.
I try to imagine my own neighbours out in the yard trying to convert their old yard sticks into centimetres and checking the stems of their personal dandelions. The more reasonable image that comes to mind is locals out there with weed-killer.
A few years back I had taken to photographing wild flowers and, for some reason, decided to add a snap of a flourishing dandelion to my collection. I found a fine healthy specimen on the lawn, advanced with my camera ready, knelt down to focus and then got myself sprayed with weed-killer. "That'll get the beggar. Can't mess about with 'em," announced my neighbour proudly flourishing his spray as I tottered off to wash the camera and to bathe myself.
Somewhere in my house is a colour slide of a mountain creek in full flood. On the banks are traces of the last winter's snow with cheeky glacier lilies already peeking through. Mid-stream is a bank of gravel and boulders and on the dubious safety of this island stands a dandelion, proud as punch. It is the first of the invaders having journeyed to this hostile place probably in the bowels of a horse.
At one time I had considered making dandelion and burdock wine but, for the life of me, I couldn't identify any of the latter burgeoning among the other invaders on my lawns. "They came with grain seeds from Europe," I told George one time but he had the theory that the pesky weeds are from Mars, or even further afield, and are probably a master race trying to take over the world.
I have eaten the leaves of the tiny glacier lily and sampled the bulbs of nodding onions too. They are good healthy food, just like the leaves of dandelions and not at all like that tasteless stuff we get imported from California each year. Why, our ancestors ached for the first dandelions in order to supplement their nourishment free winter food supplies.
Our friend Sandy produced a lawn as smooth and immaculate as a pool table cloth so, one day, we planted a healthy dandelion in the middle of it. Sandy was apoplectic but we need not have bothered. Later that very week, as dandelion seeds developed in his neighbourhood, an invasion took place. Thousands of baby dandelions parachuted in like an invading army. Out came the toxic spray.
But the flowers are just doing what every living thing on the planet attempts to do: multiply and spread everywhere possible. That's the number one rule of nature.
However, they're not getting into my yard. I'll fight back. My dander will be up, that's for sure.