Dandelions. Just that word makes the urbanite and suburbanite twitch. For reasons I simply cannot comprehend local home owners loathe the dandelion. Why? I am no granolaite, I don’t drink dandelion tea or wine, I don’t eat dandelion soup or put it in salads. It is purely a visual thing, and frankly I don’t understand how people make a distinction between a field full of dandelions and a field full of any other flower. When I see a bright green lawn full of bright yellow dandelions my heart soars. That seems just natural, like looking a little baby and feeling affection or a sunset and feeling hope. How can a human soul not be inspired by the beauty of a field full of dandelions? How?
Is there something about this that is more about order than beauty? I think so. One person’s weed is another person’s house plant. Take the Hosta plant. I think it is possibly the ugliest thing God ever created, unless you factor in rats and snakes. And UGGS were not made by the Creator so we can’t blame Her for those. Hostas are just plain unattractive, they offer nothing to inspire, not the shape or the colour or the way they grow. Hostas are to garden as mold is to shingles, they just make you wish they weren’t there. And yet almost every gardener I know covets the Hosta, plants it, encourages it to grow, puts it in the front and the back yard. I just don’t get how the dandelion is considered such a nuisance and a bane to home life and the Hosta is considered a “must have” by every city and suburban home owner.
Obviously beauty is subjective, but try telling that to ordinary folks who have absorbed the norm of household life. I once showed a picture of a front lawn with a large number of dandelions to a group of Sunday School children and asked them what their reaction was. They shouted out, “lazy man who lives there!” The enculturation starts young. Similarly when we moved into our new home in 2006 one close relation came to the property before we arrived and planted a series of Hostas assuming we would love them. “Normal people like Hostas Kev!” was the reaction to my less than thrilled facial expression.
Why do we allow the culture we live in to influence our definition of beauty so much? This goes so much deeper than the covenants of the suburbs, what you as a home owner can and cannot (read clothes lines) do with the outside lawns and driveway. Obviously we are all influenced by popular opinion, otherwise there would be no UGGS or mullets, but it seems so sad that this has such a profound effect on our appreciation of natural beauty. Think of all the flowers we call weeds that grow naturally in our climate, these are indigenous to our context, and yet there is such a fierce revulsion to their existence. Slowly but surely we are trying to wipe out what is natural to where we live and replace it with plants, trees, and flowers from God knows where. I have nothing against those pieces of creation, if I was visiting the place where these flowers, trees and plants came from I would be delighted to see them and be inspired by them. But why does ever part of the world have to look the same, look like southern California or Florida?
My Dad used to dig up various flowers, plants and trees from the ditches of Nova Scotia and plant them in our backyard. It was amazing and every single thing he transplanted was indigenous to Nova Scotia. You don’t need to create beauty when it is all around you. Thanks be to God.