In bright sunshine, I met Helen, a woman I'd seen walking from time to time. (It felt soothingly Old World that we shook hands; she looked like she might be in her 80s but has a fine strong handshake. I will mourn the loss of shaking hands if the flu epidemic forces us all away from simple physical gestures.) Helen was walking her dog Maggie, who Helen said is 17. We stopped to chat on the sidewalk east of Pierce School, looking at the caved-in spot where the big old ash tree used to be until a December ice storm got it.
We started talking about dandelions, which are just busting out all over the yard around Pierce's playground. Helen confessed she actually likes them and feels no need to root them out. The other day on her walk, she said, she ran into a woman with a handful of picked dandelions. "Oh! So you like dandelions, too!" Helen exclaimed. "No, I feed them to my lizard," the woman replied. "My lizard likes them." We smiled broadly at each other. What a great neighborhood!
I recalled how in Ohio's early springs my mom used to pick dandelion greens and cook them up in a cast iron frying pan with a vinaigrette dressing -- it was fabulous. But as I told Helen, I never have enough nerve to pick the greens from my own yard to try this dish, which was one of my favorites as a kid. I keep thinking about the parade of dogs on the street and the raccoons that obviously explore my back yard at night. When I was six and we moved from the country to the city, one of the things my mother mourned was the ready supply of "clean" dandelion greens in April.
I still might try it, though. Helen reminded me I could just wash them carefully. Next week probably will be too late -- the greens have to be young and tender.
The soft or shrill voice within us
7 years ago