I was down at Pony Pasture the other day and within about five minutes was covered with what appeared to be nearly my weight in inchworms. It was a whole, whole, whole lot of calories. Something the next level up on the food chain is fat and happy.

Although they’re “weeds,” dandelions are not bad looking flowers. And since (at least in my yard) they’re inescapable, I may as well enjoy them. I mean, it’s spring and they’re flowers. Why not? Dandelions (Taraxacum) are bright, cheerful flowers:


I also have these azaleas (Rhododendron); I don’t know why they get more recognition than dandelions. I used to have a stunning white one behind my house that was as big as a minivan. Unfortunately for it (fortunately for me), there is now a master bathroom there. Azaleas are pretty but can be a little fussy. Kind of high-maintenance. At least by my standards.


Some of my indifference toward azaleas comes from the fact they don’t smell – I like flowers to smell good. That’s why I’m fond of hyacinths and lilacs. And in the luscious-smelling-flower category, my peonies will be opening – you guessed it – any day now. I think I’ve said that for about four posts in a row. They’re taking their time but it won’t be long.

Soon a flower will be opening up that smells as beautiful as any other, is as delicate and lovely as an orchid, and as easy to grow (and impossible to eradicate) as a dandelion – yay for honeysuckle (Lonicera). When it begins to blossom I will post pictures. It will perfume the air along my driveway, at Pony Pasture, and on many a long summer bike ride.

Another delicate (appearing) flower will make its fragrant entrance soon at Pony Pasture, Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora). It too will be as big as a minivan – in some cases as big as a boxcar. I’ll post pictures when it blooms. This will be yet another flower that needs to be smelled to be truly appreciated. Go to Pony Pasture and smell for yourself!

One of my friends I work with was away earlier this week on Spring Break. I had time to myself so (see if you can guess) I went to the Y and had a nice swim. On the way home I dropped by (guess again?) Starbucks for a biscotti and a drink then headed across to (this time I’ll surprise you) Pony Pasture. The river was in a Spring flood and quite high, almost 15 feet (4.5 meters). Everything is budding for spring. And everything is coming to eat the new buds – I was covered with these guys:


They were everywhere. Now – I’m guessing next time I’d down there – the ducklings and goslings will be out. To eat the inchworms. It’s this big cycle. Every second of every minute of every hour, day, week, month, season, year. It’s all, of course, dependent on The Big Energy Source: the sun. The days are getting longer and more of the sun’s energy is coming to this particular patch of earth. Plants use the magic of photosynthesis and convert the sunlight – and some water – to carbohydrates. And to oxygen, thank goodness. The inchworms eat the plants, the ducks eat the inchworms, it’s just amazing. It’s not a miracle – it’s an equation – but that doesn’t make it less miraculous. I mean, seriously – could you have come up with this idea? I am so sure.

I regret not having any pictures of gardenias to put up. Even more than regretting having no pictures I regret having none to smell. Perhaps I’ll finally plant some this year. They may smell better than any other flower. There used to be an enormous one near the ER at Henrico Doctors but unfortunately they pulled it up to put on an addition.

Those inchworms were a lot of the inspiration for this post. But my blogging muse [] put up a neat post [On a Dreary Day, 15 April, 2011] that cued me about dandelions. Kind of started this little cascade for me. Sometime in the late ’70’s when I was a senior in high school we read Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. At home we made some. It wasn’t bad. Our family owned a cabin up in Page County, VA back then. We had family and friends up there a lot, and friends from high school a time or three – my brother Kevin and I both went to Gonzaga, a Jesuit high school in Washington, DC. Several times we had priest friends of our family up to visit. Down the hill from the cabin there was a creek that ran most of the year. Once during one of our early visits my older sister Katie caught a Hellbender salamander in the creek. At a bend in the creek was an enormous, gnarled Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica). It had huge knots, as big as basketballs, protruding from the sides of the trunk. People living near there hung flower baskets from the knots. Beneath the willow was a picnic table. A priest friend of our said mass at the table. When he consecrated the wine for the Eucharist he used our dandelion wine.  It’s funny what you flash back to. That must have been close to thirty five years ago. Wow.

Anyway, fun post. Have a great day,


Another cheerful dandelion

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
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3 Responses to Growth

  1. Grace says:

    FYI: “Dandelion Wine” has been checked out of the library… by me. 🙂

  2. It’s funny they’re a “weed.” I mean, look how beautiful they are. I’m glad you checked it out of the library – this is the time of year to be reading it. I’m about 1/3 through it. And loving it. It’s certainly a summer book, but even more a spring book. Enjoy!

  3. Justin Smith says:

    Really? I was just out in the yard yesterday, watering the scrawny little flowers in my scrawny little patch of weeds that I call a ‘garden’, because we’ve had a few days without much rain and that’s enough to kill or at least severely maim my miniature floral misadventures; and I was looking over at our azalaeas and marveling at the fact that they add much more color to the yard and never seem to need much maintenance at all. Granted, I know next-to-nothing about this particular subject.

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