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Dropping Labels and Understanding Motivations...


I remember being a 30 something and sitting on my front porch and looking helplessly at the sea of yellow dandelions taking over our lawn. As a mom of toddlers, the only thing scarier then the use of chemicals to "get rid of them" was to tediously pull them out by hand. I wanted our lawn to look like our neighbours' lawns. I thought these "weeds" said something about the kind of homeowners we were. What would people think? And yet I could not force myself to spray. I was caught between society's expectation of the perfect lawn in the suburbs and not wanting to use poison near my kiddos...


Fast forward many years: those toddlers are full grown-assed adults and I LOVE the sea of yellow when it appears to take over my two acre yard. Armed with a little bit of understanding, I have come to appreciate what the humble dandelion offers the world. Who knew that I had a choice in how I view these plants? I could choose to label them as "weeds" or "invasive" or "trouble" or "flowers" or "plant medicine" or "nutritious food" depending on my perspective. I get to decide how I choose to frame these plants... I have wisely laid down my arms and found peace with these bright yellow petals of sunshiny loveliness.



I have learned that "weeds" are the the first responders to disturbed soil. They have important work to do and do not appear simply to irritate yard owners. Soil is a living, breathing entity and within it is a vast seed bank at the ready to protect this precious, life-giving part of nature. Soil is the foundation for our survival. Without soil, there is no food. And without food = no life. Soil is sacred. Mother Nature NEVER leaves her soil bare. Go out into the wild and find anywhere the soil is bare and you will find recent human activity. As soon as a disruption occurs and the soil is left bare, the seed bank within the soil responds immediately to quickly cover it with biomass in the form of grasses and other plant matter. The "weed" seeds are the essential workers to ensure soil is not lost to wind or water erosion. In the case of dandelions, they restore minerals and other nutrient-rich ingredients to the soil. The long tap roots create drainage channels in compacted soil allowing for water and earth worm movement. Their bright yellow blossoms provide an important early blooming bee plant. These "weeds" rush in to repair, to triage the soil and offer humans a powerful source of medicine and food.



Dandelions are an official medicinal plant. They have many beneficial and powerful healing elements. They are a natural diuretic able to purify the blood and the liver. They can relieve muscle spasms. They can reduce inflammation in the body. All parts of the plant can be used and digested by us for medicinal and nutritional properties. The flower heads are full of vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin - of course. Children have recognized the beauty and magic in these plants since time immemorial. I have received many, many bouquets of dandelions from my own children and the children in my classrooms each spring upon their arrival. Had I known what a powerful bouquet was being gathered and gifted to me, I would have been even more deeply touched as I received these affectionate offerings.


Must have book that has amazing information about dandelions and other beneficial native plants...


The leaves are delicious and nutritious in soups and salads. The roots are amazing roasted and give us access to bio-available minerals. The stems are filled with a milky white substance that when applied topically to warts, rids them within days. There are many uses and benefits found within this "weed" or "hard working volunteer." It all depends on how you see and label them...


It blows my mind that what I really wanted as that young mom years ago, before I changed my lens on this plant - was to annihilate them. I wanted to wage war on this "enemy" of the perfect suburban, water hogging lawn. I wanted them gone, sprayed, to be left with just my lawn. I wanted our lawn to look like all the other lawns on my street. I was a total "grasshole" but today I welcome them as medicine, as food, as habitat for bees who badly need a chemically-free place to be.



Changing my perspective on "weeds" has me wondering, what other labels of mine are outdated? What other people, places or things have I put in a category or judged a certain way without taking a closer look. Considering motivations or intentions underneath often reveals a more complete understanding. Over and over again I see that my "labelling" is outdated, incorrect, incomplete and unhelpful. When the labels are let go, I see the beauty and abundance rather than weeds and work...


Dropping labels and outdated beliefs is one of the many lessons the garden is teaching me... Taking an up close look at this plant has left me with love and admiration for these little bursts of sunshine that show up to heal the land - that is their only agenda. I loved them as a little girl... And now I love them again. As Brene Brown says, it is hard to hate close up. These hardworking, beneficial volunteers have encouraged me to question all of my labels and to find the good intentions within whatever crosses my path each day. Deep gratitude for these medicinal plants healing my lawn all over the place presently...





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