That Bad Weed - Taraxacum officinaleThursday, April 12, 2018
The Spanish expression, “Mala yerba nunca muere,” or bad weeds never die, has suffered a transformation in the last few years.
Before the expression was all about the dogged resilience of garden weeds to survive in spite of everything the gardener might do to eradicate them. Now this bad weed refers to drugs. At least three films in Spanish have been made (beginning in 1920) with the theme of a bad weed being a person with no redeeming quality. Now there is a play on Broadway on the theme of drug lord.
When some persistant politician of ill- repute would not go away in Latin America we would often repeat the mala yerba refrán. Or when people ask me about my Rosemary’s health I repeat it!
In my 80s past when I was obsessed with having the perfect English lawn I resorted to a fertilizer (no longer sold in our pesticice/heribicide weed Vancouver) called Weed’n Feed. A few years later I understood the damage I was doing to the environment and I used a very reliable and rewarding task of removing in particular the common dandelion which has the interesting botanical name of Taraxacum officinale.
In my late teenagehood I was obsessed with reading science fiction. I read everything by Ray Bradbury that I could find including Dandelion Wine. This is what Wikipedia says of this fine novel:
Dandelion Wine is a 1957 novel by Ray Bradbury, taking place in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois, based upon Bradbury's childhood home of Waukegan, Illinois. The novel developed from the short story "Dandelion Wine" which appeared in the June 1953 issue of Gourmet magazine.
The title refers to a wine made with dandelion petals and other ingredients, commonly citrus fruit. In the story, dandelion wine, as made by the protagonist's grandfather, serves as a metaphor for packing all of the joys of summer into a single bottle.
The main character of the story is Douglas Spaulding, a 12-year-old boy loosely patterned after Bradbury. Most of the book is focused upon the routines of small-town America, and the simple joys of yesterday.
Now in 2018 at age 75 I find myself troubled by the simple removal of the dandelions in my Kitsilano laneway garden. Any living thing, including weeds that are so persistent in existing require some respect. I feel guilty removing them by digging underneath with my rose secateurs.
But I take them out anyway. I hope my life is as equally persistent.