Wednesday, April 27, 2016

#Phenology: think about connecting the dots

One of the things I most enjoy about phenology is that it causes me to think if I want to connect the dots. Most of my life I've been inundated with the idea that dandelions ruin lawns and need to be "treated" with an herbicide. I don't recall anyone mentioning that plain turf grass laws are a monoculture approaching a biological desert, unless you're raising sheep or goats and there are few of those in most suburban, or even exurban, neighborhoods. More recently I've learned that dandelions can be foraged and both the flowers and leaves eaten (wash thoroughly). Even more recently I've found out that dandelion flowers are early food sources for pollinators and other creatures we depend on to help produce food. I haven't yet checked out time lines between letting pollinators feed and feeding human foragers. It's almost like being back in kindergarten and learning to share in the sand box.

early Spring dandelion
early Spring dandelion
Photo by J. Harrington

Our local dandelions have emerged into bloom over the past day or so. None in view Monday, some today, and I don't remember seeing any yesterday buy couldn't swear they weren't there. Between dandelions and male gold finches, chrome yellow is starting to highlight the greens of Spring. The neighbor's apple tree's white blossoms and, not quite as far along, those on our pear tree, are also tempering the vermilion waves. Unfortunately, as I feared, it appears that the pocket gophers got the apple trees. Although I generally hate to kill a creature I don't intend to eat, I'll make exceptions for pocket gophers, if I can ever find their active tunnels.

male gold finches
male gold finches
Photo by J. Harrington

The Dandelion

Vachel Lindsay

O dandelion, rich and haughty,
King of village flowers!
Each day is coronation time,
You have no humble hours.
I like to see you bring a troop
To beat the blue-grass spears,
To scorn the lawn-mower that would be
Like fate’s triumphant shears.
Your yellow heads are cut away,
It seems your reign is o’er.
By noon you raise a sea of stars
More golden than before.

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