The ice cream cone flavour of the week is dandelion

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, May 30, 2007

“You’re an ice cream cone!” she said, looking me straight in the eye.

Now, I’ve been called many things before, but never an ice cream cone.

I was at a table in Guy’s Bakery sipping a cup of my usual Saturday morning dark roast when Karen Falk approached me with her accusation. Karen’s the owner/operator of Cochrane-based Safety in Motion Inc., a driver safety training company. But at that moment I wasn’t sure what she was driving at – safely or otherwise.

“An . . . an ice cream cone?” I stammered.

“Yes,” she said. “Your column is like an ice cream cone. Everybody, young and old alike, enjoys ice cream cones. They’re always refreshing, and never threatening – just like your columns!”

Wow! What a compliment, I thought. But the credit belongs at least as much to our coffee companions who contribute so much to the flavour of this column.

Flavour of the week: Dandelion
Photo by Warren Harbeck

In fact, this week’s flavour is dandelion.

Last week’s column alluded to the “nasty crop of dandelions determined to take over my lawn.” Our readers were quick to respond.

From Westbank, B.C., Angus McNee e-mailed me his Ghost Lake Village memory of the late Don Cooke:

“I always recall Don saying that he really didn’t mind the dandelions,” Angus wrote. “He loved the cheerful sunshine yellow of their flowers, which brought colour to our otherwise monochromatic landscape.”

This love of dandelions was echoed by Cochrane coffee companion Ginette Mitchell, currently residing in Moscow:

“I want to talk to you about your dandelions,” she wrote. “Here in Moscow, they are considered a beautiful flower. I saw in the metro last week a teenager proudly wearing a crown of bright yellow dandelions. So, don't despair; in some parts of the world they are beautiful.”

Then there was this rather amusing e-mail from a former Bow Valley resident now living in Ontario:

JUST HAD A LITTLE image for you regarding "weeds" and dandelions being pesky. Unfortunately, our town by-laws insist on dandelions being cut, dug and poisoned, so we – or more likely, our neighbours – can maintain billiard-table-like surfaces on our lawns.

By the way, lawns apparently evolved under the Louis in France as an expression of state power: "I can afford to have all this acreage, plant nothing useful like food in it, and I can afford a host of people to maintain it," say the Louis. The concept spread to lower nobility and ultimately middle classes and now ordinary joes like ourselves.

Having said that, I have never been keen on cutting dandelions, which feed millions of birds and provide fluff for their nests. However, I found another use for them just after we moved back to Ontario, when our son, Michael, was two-and-a-half.

We lived in a wildish, park-like setting near Lake Simcoe. I faithfully cut the lawn to abide by the by-laws and keep the joint looking semi-civilized. One day, after super growing conditions and a few days of mom busy with other things, I realized the dandelions in the back were knee high. Suddenly, I noticed Michael, who had taken off every stitch of clothes, was running with total abandon through the dandelions, which were up to his chest. As his little copper head bobbed gaily through the field of gold, his arms whirling in sweeps through the dandelions, I thought about the Garden of Eden. I told my husband, Tim, "Now I know what dandelions are for!"

Have always been loath to cut them ever since.

—Kathleen Adamson, Schomberg, Ont.

SO, MY COFFEE companions, you are ice cream cones, too, and I enjoy the flavours you bring – including dandelion. And thanks again, Karen, for the compliment.

© 2007 Warren Harbeck

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