How many of us have looked at a lawn in early summer filled with dandelions and groaned – especially as the wispy seed heads began to blow in the wind?
But what if dandelions were part of nature’s way to make sure we could eat healthfully? According to the Cleveland Clinic (and many others), these yellow flowered plants are the most nutritious green out there, beyond even kale and spinach. Every part from root to stem to leaves to flowers is packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals. And the same is true for golden rod, wild mint, nettles, yarrow, alfalfa, bottoms of cattails, and many more common plants around in fields, grass and forests.
I bring this up for several reasons. First, as leaders, our job is to see wider, to look at challenges from new perspectives, to be creative and innovative and to look beyond the linear into holistic, multi-faceted solutions. How many ideas arise beyond just spraying chemicals on to lawns when we categorize “weeds” differently? Where else could this metaphor apply to current challenges?
Second, what happens to ourselves and our children when we see and feel the magic of nature? When instead of fighting it, co-opting it and objectifying the earth’s resources around us, we make a commitment to learn a bit more about them? To gain gratitude for the gifts they give? Data shows that when we do this, a myriad of good things happen – both for us (physically, mentally and creatively) and for nature. If you haven’t read Braided Sweetgrass yet, treat yourself to this powerful and delightful book of wisdom written by Robin Wall Kemmerer, a scientist, botanist and of Native American heritage.
And finally, what happens when we allow solutions to come from outside ourselves? When we slow down for a moment to receive? When we open a little more and carry a little less? What does the voice deep inside whisper about priorities, relationships, connection? What is it that we want to contribute to this remarkable world in our journey of life? What could the dandelions be whispering in the wind?
So maybe this week-end, we collect a bouquet of dandelions. Then wash, cut and share them in our salad or pasta. Even try drying the leaves on a cookie sheet for a couple of days and putting them in a jar for tea on a chilly morning (you could also add some lavender). The dandelion benefits are plentiful — and it’s not just about the dandelions :).
Here’s some other fun resources I’ve discovered over the last year to grow my nature connection and dandelion leadership:
Many books, but here’s one I started with: Edible Wild Plants.
Happy, joyous kick off to summer,