Dandiest Lion of Spring

by Laura Kauffman | Apr 1, 2022 | 0 comments

Blue violets in log
Photo © Dreamstime.com.

Another school day was over. Eager students burst from the schoolhouse doors and headed for the road toward home.

Danny waved and watched them leave for a minute before turning toward the low corner of the schoolyard. He swung his heavy boots through the barbed wire fence and started down the winding path toward his home.

Blackberry bushes reached out to scratch and snag his clothing. But Danny enjoyed this peaceful walk each morning and afternoon. He knew that before school let out for the summer, the brambles would be loaded with white flowers. Come July, he would gather the ripe blackberries by the pailful.

Across from the brambles, the trees shaded the ferns Mom always talked about digging up for the flower bed back home. Soon the trilliums would show their white faces and the mayapples would sprout.

Danny crossed the log footbridge. Before him lay the “Green Meadow” with its clumps of red and white clover. Queen Anne’s lace and oxeye daisy would burst into bloom here too. By the time the blackberries ripened, he would need to wade through a sea of shoulder-high buttercups with his pails.

Once school started again in the fall, bits of ironweed and goldenrod would tower here and there.

Today there was no evidence of any flowers, although the air smelled of spring and new growth. However, four years of walking to school, the store, or the neighbors, had taught him just what flowers to expect and where they would grow.

At the edge of the meadow, he took a gigantic leap over the creek. This was a prime maple woods. The path was now a sticky muck from the horses’ hooves, where they had pulled the sled gathering maple sap. He was careful which trees he grabbed to keep his balance, as several hosted vines of poison ivy running up and down the trunks.

Next summer a good stand of jewelweed will grow here. Jewelweed grows in the same habitat as does poison ivy, and it relieves the itching.

Danny is more interested in watching for deer which love to forage on the juicy jewelweed, than in gathering it for a rash. Danny also likes to startle an unsuspecting person by asking them to touch a fat jewelweed seed pod. He likes to see them jump when it explodes.

Danny stooped to cross another barbed wire fence and took a second look. The common blue violets had burst into bloom. He crouched to pick one after another. In the end, he had so many, he used his hat to carry them home.

Only a little farther…past the place where wild geraniums bloom in the summer…and he was in his own yard.

He waved his hat high as he walked inside. Mom grinned quizzically until he lowered it to show his prize.

Mom oohed and aahed while Danny fetched a vase. As he arranged the first bouquet of the season, he remembered…

“Mom, do you think enough dandelions are blooming now? Please. I can probably get enough if I go far enough,” his eyes begged.

Mom hesitated. “If you can find at least thirty.”

Danny dashed for the door. Before long, picking thirty dandelions would become a breeze. He hurried out to the pasture where he had been eyeing a few blooms for awhile now. He checked the neighboring hay field. It looked possible.

When Danny reentered the house, he announced, “Thirty-eight.”

“Oh, good.” Mom hurried to heat some oil as Danny fixed salt water to scare off any creepy-crawlies he might have overlooked.

Once the dandelion flowers (minus stems) were soaking, Danny whipped two egg whites to a frothy stiffness.

Meanwhile Mom was busy mixing the two egg yolks with 1⅓ cups flour, 1¼ cups milk, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. Mom carried the mixture to the spice cupboard and shook in a generous amount of parsley, a few shakes of garlic powder, and a dash of salt and pepper. By now the egg whites were stiff and ready to add.

Danny dumped the flowers into a colander and gathered plates, honey-mustard, and ranch dressing. Meanwhile Mom coated each flower with batter before dropping it into the hot oil. After a few minutes of sizzling, she flipped them with the tongs.

Danny handed her a bowl lined with paper towels. Soon it was filled with golden battered bites of golden flowers. Almost half of the batter went into the fridge, ready for the next picking of dandelions.

Everyone gathered around for a delicious snack. To Danny, the dandelion will always remain the dandiest lion of spring.

Fried dandelions
Photo © Dreamstime.com.

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