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Dandelion Days

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Our Life

Dandelion Days

May 14th, 2005  · stk

When we rented this house and moved in last summer, we inherited a large backyard, which we thought would be a great playground for the Oop. It had a swing set (which she seems to be using much sooner than we thought) and plenty of green grass. Unfortunately, the green grass was being crowded out by a growing field of yellow dandelions, as to which this early photo will attest. After we moved in, I began a crusade to eradicate these pretty, pesky vermin. By the time we had moved in and tended to all the chores associated with making a new house a home, there was precious little summertime left to mount an assault. Still, armed with a flat-bladed screwdriver and a glass of wine, I would, in the fading light of evening, content myself in the task of plucking dandelions - by the bucket.

Of course, there are many ways to rid oneself of these broad leaf creatures. One can hire a team of lawn professionals, armed with the latest technological, geneological and other logical, solutions. But that costs something that we haven't much of - money. Another solution would be to spread broadleaf-killing herbecide, which isn't quick, but is effective. We weren't too keen on plastering chemicals across the very lawn that our barefoot daughter would be playing in. Besides, where is the sport in that? It's like catching fish with a net. No, I insisted on plucking out each and every creature, armed only with the screwdriver (and a glass of wine).

War raged and it appeared that I quickly gained the upper hand. It was as if the enemy had grown complacent, sure of their ultimate victory. By autumn, I had rid the front yard, and most of the back, from dandelions. Only the area under the swingset, beside the house, and in the alley, remained. Winter came, blanketing the yard with white and the war was put off until another day.

Well, now that the snow has melted, it seems that we've gone from winter to summer in three short weeks. There have been a few very warm 26°C (78°F) days where we've needed to wear shorts. (OMG! When I converted Celcius to Farenheit, I had to laugh ... nothing like what "warm" would be considered in Bakersfield, California! Ha ha.)

Dandilions are making a ferocious sprintime appearance and the war is on once again. This time, they're prepared and have called in the reinforcements. The pesky troops are popping up all over the back yard! Battle lines are drawn and this time, I have a secret weapon - the Oop. Of course, the only problem is that I'm not sure if she's MY secret weapon, or the dandelion's! I appreciate that she wants to help, but in some ways, she's not helping at all.

Rescuing the bucket: I measure success by this device, which is the portable recepticle for the dandelion carnage. It's not unusual to collect two, three, maybe even four, driving-range-size buckets of beheaded dandelions every day. The bucket sits at my side, willing ... no EAGER ... to accept new offerings. That is, until the self-appointed "bucket monitor" (the Oop), stealthly usurps it, taking it to the far corner of the yard, often dumping the contents (either deliberately or inadvertantly) on the ground. Some help! Half my time is spent chasing down the bucket.

Oop pulls her weight: These dandelions are now sending their offspring into battle. The only way I can identify the juvenile warriors is by their yellow flower, a forewarning of the soon-to-come, dangerous seed pod. (One seed pod can scatter 250 or more new recruits - I shudder at the thought). In order to eradicate these youngsters, I must extract them, root & all. And now, here comes "my assistant", who is beguiled by the flower. She knows I'm hunting. Wanting to help, she PICKS the flower, hiding the location of the enemy.

Perfect little angel or the devil in disguise? As helpful as the Oop is trying to be, I'm not certain that she's increased my kill record. She's a cute helper, there is no denying, but helpful? Only if I can keep her away from the bucket and the tempting yellow flowers.

So, the war rages. Armed with a srewdriver, wine and the Oop ... I am slowly winning the battle. The number of dandelions with thumb-sized taproots is dwindling, though I am amazed that some of the lesser creatures have roots that are nearly a foot in length. (It's SOOO satisfying to get the whole root!) Most of the ones with trunks for root are too difficult to extract intact and instead, are broken off. This means that I will have to return, because one unbroken root, can yield a dozen clones, all clustered together.

Counting buckets is how I've been measuring the days. If I collect four buckets, my hands are ragged and dirty from the battlefield. If the Oop dumps four buckets, I consider myself lucky! Still, the dandelions spring forth from the ground, wave upon wave of seemingly endless recruits. Ultimately (and perhaps, despite my "assistant", I shall prevail ... or become a wino in the process).

Ah yes, I almost forgot. There was a recent event, which happened only a few days ago, that highlights the capabilities of my assistant. As the Oop is drawn to yellow dandelion flowers, she is also drawn to Tuxedo, our cat (who is also thankful that winter is over and can go potty in more places than the one boothole off of the shoveled walkway - which is now a large area of dead grass, by the way). Anyway ... the Oop is so enamored by our furry feline that she often pesters him so much that he leaves the back yard. He's been forced to hang out on the front porch, which isn't too distasteful, because it catches the warm afternoon sun and Alex can't (yet) climb over the short fence across the driveway (that doesn't mean she doesn't try, though).

Putting a long spin on a short story, we had a bit of an emergency when Alex tried to follow the cat through a large gap between the house and the fence (not the one I built, but the pre-existing one on the OTHER side of the house). Alex tried to squeeze herself through, but only managed to put her head into the front yard, the rest of her was still stuck in the backyard. I looked up (from my dandilion digging) when I heard the loud wail, to see poor Oop, stuck between the fence and a hard place. "Should I call the fire department or whip out the butter tub?" I wondered, as I ran to assist. It took a minute to dislodge our poor tot, as her head and ears were jammed firmly between the 4x4 post and the rough stucco. All turned out well, though I'm sure that Alex would tell a different story if she could talk. No blood, but there were big gulping sobs and alligator tears that spilled forth as she clung to me, her momentary hero. She eventually calmed down, but decided that a nap was needed to put all the trauma behind her. My poor dandelion assistant.

Sorry to say, but as distraught as our little girl was after "the sticking" (as it's become known), I'm afraid that once may not have been enough to deter her from trying it again. After all, it took two or three handfuls of dirt, last summer, before Alex realized that the Earth wasn't very delectible.

So that's life, here in Edmonton, in springtime, at our house. Dandelion days and blogging nights.

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Updated: 20-May-2005
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1.flag Ed Reed Comment
You need to try out a "Dandelion Terminator";that is, if you own a cordless drill. There is no faster, easier or cleaner way to get rid of them. Check it out at
2.flag stk Comment
I've got a cordless drill. Send me one and I'll give it a try. If it pans out, I'll post a ringing endorsement.

Although, picking out dandelions on a warm summer evening, with a glass of wine by my side, isn't all that unpleasurable.