‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You never know dear, how much I love you.
So, please, don’t take my sunshine away.’
Ever since I was a child, this old classic comes to mind every time I see a dandelion. Curiosity about this little ditty struck me recently, so I thought I’d look up this timeless, time piece. Now I know some of you are thinking that Jimmie Davis the credited songwriter of ‘You are My Sunshine’ back in the day of 1940 is the originator after all, it was just portrayed in a more recent movie, O Brother Where Art Thou. But, did you know that there were two others that recorded and released this song in 1939! I didn’t. Yep, August 22, The Pine Ridge Boys and on September 13, The Rice Brother’s Gang, both recorded and released in the same year! I found this according to Wikipedia. Guess there is nothing new under the sun. For me it only means everyone agrees that it’s a really good song. Proof being, the whole state of Louisiana agreed and made it one of their state songs.
Sure, I know that old nursery rhyme about the dandelion, but I never was one to sing such cruelty and be happy about it. So the dandelion for me has always been sunshine. And it turns out I wasn’t far off All my life I‘ve heard dandelions dubbed as weeds, and yet, I wondered why? I’m sure you, as I have, have heard people say “Oh, they’re just nasty weeds. They choke off the grass.” “If you don’t get rid of them they’ll take over the lawn.” I never understood the need for perfectly ‘manicured’ lawn (sounds like something for a beauty parlour). Personally, I find ’manicured lawns boring to look at. I’d rather see a lawn bursting with color and why not those sun-shining little yellow flowers? As a kid, didn’t we all play with them? Wasn’t it the color that attracted us and put a smile on our faces? So, who actually dubbed them weeds!
No It Wasn’t the Old Folks
The old folks in those few precious moments of teaching the young have showed me things like the edible ‘so called weeds’. Often the expression ‘did you know’ would start and my ears would be pricked with excitement of the soon to be received of lost knowledge. I always believed that the old folk carried the keys to the lost treasure. For me it just made common sense that after living so long they must carry the knowledge of secrets passed down through generations plus, through their own experiences and time, discovered some special treasures along the way. I love spending time with old folks. Walking by the way and listening to them. They can be very surprising sometimes. It was during such a stroll one day with a friend of mine where secrets of the past revealed some special treasures to me.
Can I Stretch My Legs Too
It was a walk through a field: a field that had been left untouched. No sprays of pesticides, weed kills, or fertilizers. It was free to live as God intended. Our stroll together started off like most walks with old folk. It was quiet and peaceful. As if that just being together, the young and old, were quietly healing each other. And then, for what appeared as no particular reason he swooped down and picked a clover flower and started eating it! “Hey, my dad does that too“, I said. “Huh-huh”, he said. “But I don’t know why, you can’t eat a lot.” I replied. “No, you couldn’t.” he said.
(One thing I noticed growing up and listening to old folks is that they don’t waste words. They keep everything simple. Yikes!! I’m not that old! I’d better get back to the story of reminiscing…yikes not that too!!)
So we strolled on, enjoying each other’s company on one perfect, late spring, day. The birds of the country were singing about us and bees were skipping from ‘weed to weed’. I just love the absence of the noise, of the city and the business of people who always seem in a hurry, chasing what they can never seem to catch! Then, all of a sudden he did it again! The swoop down, pick and eat! “What was that?” I inquired. “Lamb’s quarters”, he said. “Lamb’s quarters? That’s a funny name. And you can eat that?” I asked. “Huh-huh”, was all he said. We walked. Silence. He had captured me and he knew it. He just calmly waited for my curiosity to push my youthful questions of need, out. “So, what else can we eat out here?” I needed to know. “There’s lots of stuff.” he replied. Then silence. Arrrrggg! I thought. That’s not fair! He knows a secret out here and he’s not sharing! Then, swoop, pick, eat. “A dandelion! You ate a dandelion!” I said shocked! “Yep.” is all he said. And I thought for sure he grinned too. “Okay, so show me. Show me everything you know we can eat out here.” I begged. He grinned. “Did you know…he began. By the time he finished showing me, we had ate a whole mixed salad of ’weeds’! Minus the salad dressing of course.
Did you know…. the following are just the basics of the weeds that are edible and found while ‘weeding’ your garden. LOL Some are also found in your mixed salad you buy in the grocery store. hmmmmm
Edible parts: flower, leaves and roots.
Uses: raw leaves in salads, dandelion wine or jelly out of blossoms, or roots to make a coffee substitute.
Edible parts: leaves and stems
Uses: raw is salads or steamed until tender.
Edible parts: leaves and seeds
Uses: young leaves for raw salads, seeds raw or roasted. Good as a tea too.
Uses: add raw to salads, toss in soups, boil it or sautee it.
Did you know…you can preserve Purslane for winter by pickling it in apple cider vinegar with garlic cloves and peppercorns? I didn’t, but I think I’ll try doing some with the next batch of sauerkraut in the making
More recently I have discovered that this plant is a very good companion plant FOR GARDENS!!! especially during droughts. Purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilizing ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use. Corn roots will follow purslane roots down through harder soil than they can penetrate on their own. A good ’weed’ to have around I’d say.
So really, who dubbed these five as weeds? Because I find them fruitful.
If you have any favorite useful weeds that you would like to add to this list, please feel free to mention them in the comments following this story. I’m sure many readers as well as myself, will be watching for more secret treasures waiting for us to discover them.