Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dandelions is running a contest asking people to leave a comment describing their favorite 'symbol/icon/etc' and what it means to them. What a fun little exercise! The symbols people are choosing say so much about them, especially if it came to them without their needing to overthink it.

The symbol that immediately came to mind for me was the dandelion. For the past few months I have been occasionally considering getting one as a tattoo, but I haven't really spent a lot of time trying to understand why it is that I identify with them so much.

For starters, when I was a kid, I absolutely loved finding the little puffy ones and gently blowing the seeds to watch them be carried off by the wind. People always called them weeds, which is a racially insensitive term among plants, and they killed them off with all sorts of nasty chemicals. 

I'd sometimes blow them over to my neighbors clean, green lawns. I tried to be furtive about it, because I knew they were on the other team, and when I saw patches of little yellow lions roaring from their yard I was so excited! The yellow looks so pretty against a thick green lawn. But I stopped doing that when I realized I was sending them to a premature and painful death by chemical warfare.

My sisters liked them too, though I don't know if they got the same excitement I did from finding the patches of white clouds. They probably considered them on a par with the violets, which our yard had plenty of and I certainly appreciated them too, but did you know that when you squeeze a dandelion stem, some white gooey milk comes out? It's just like the stuff that you find in milkweed - another exciting plant, though not as common.

And then there are the not quite ready dandelions, with their modest green heads squeezing around a patch of soft, gently forming seeds, accented with the crunchy remains of the flower petals peering out the top like a little tuft of hair. When I was feeling curious, I'd pull the seeds out from the top. They came in one big cluster, with a sound like velcro ripping. I always felt a little guilty because they never could float on the wind like they would if I'd been more patient, but I'd try to loosen them up and toss them up in the air to see what would happen.

 That feeling of adventure, of the curious pursuit and experimentation, is the reason I'm an artist. I just find so much creative inspiration after so many years of playing around with everything I've come into contact with. I've found so many things that make me feel happy to be alive, and I have this fear that if I don't start making them myself the world might run out. I mean, the internet has shown me so much, from how to blow a shofar to how our children can benefit from the acknowledgement of racial issues rather than trying to make them 'colorblind'. I always find something new that interests me, and that often sparks new interests in things I never would have looked at before, so I suppose there's plenty left for me to find and I'd have to live a million years to see it all. But there seems to be a finite number of cool things in the world, and I want to contribute to that number.

I'll make another post some other time on why I'm an artist. That's a big topic, and I was totally sidetracked off dandelions. I'm not really interested in writing about them anymore though, so I guess I'll leave it at that.


  1. I think it's great that you want to contribute to the cool things there are to do and see in the world... you already have, of course. But do you really mean that you think there are a finite number of cool things in the world? Maybe I'm just easily awed, these days... from here it looks infinite and expanding.

  2. It's a long list sure, and it's expanding, but I think it's finite. And things are disappearing from the list too.