Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Foolish Consistency

...is the hobgoblin of little minds, said Emerson. On the other hand, "When a job you've once begun, never cease until it's done," said my father-in-law.

Yesterday, in the midst of collecting dandelions, I decided to go with Emerson. You may, if you read this , recall that I was all set to make dandelion wine--set enough to buy five lemons and a bag of sugar. The recipe calls for a gallon of flowers, without the green parts, which impart a bitter flavor. As you can imagine, it takes a heck of a lot of dandelion petals to fill a gallon jug.

But remembering happy times of gathering dandelions with my goats nearby, I set out with a gallon jug, a knife, and Wolfie and Bisou as goat stand-ins. I picked and trimmed, picked and trimmed. It seemed to me that in former years I could kneel on a single spot and gather a substantial number of blossoms before moving on. Whereas now the distance between flowers was much greater, and I was having to move from flower to flower as I cut.

Remember, I admonished myself, that gathering dandelions for wine always took long time. It's an old-timey thing to do, a slow, repetitive old-timey thing, which is the reason nobody makes dandelion wine much anymore. It's good for the soul to engage in old-timey pursuits every once in a while, as a counterweight to all the texting and twittering. Besides, I continued, rising laboriously from my knees and proceeding to another patch, I should be focusing on the process, not the objective.

Before I could help myself, my wrist, with my watch on it, flew before my eyes. What kind of a Zen monk wannabe am I, I reprimanded myself. It's been--what--twenty minutes since I started, and I'm already checking the time?

Before I could help myself, I looked at the jug. There was about a cup of petals on the bottom.

I gritted my teeth and went on picking. Look at the flowers, I told myself. See how they stretch every petal towards the sun, like people on Caribbean resort posters. Others are still in bud, while others are starting to shrivel...at this, melancholy parallels to the seasons of a woman's life swam through my mind. No, look at the flowers, really look, I said. And I remembered an Art Nouveau wrapping paper that I had saved from a long-ago gift--some early 1900s artist had really looked at a lot of dandelions and come up with that beautiful design. Maybe he or she was also making dandelion wine?

By the time the sun had reached its zenith, I was still picking, but it didn't seem to have much of an effect on the level in the jug. My fingers were yellow, my fingernails were black, and my knees were starting to hurt, but "when a job you've once begun, never cease until it's done" I muttered, and picked some more.

The fact was, I was running out of dandelions. But was that possible? Had anyone ever run out of dandelions before? Was this a sign of global warming? I looked over at the dogs, who had long before lost interest in my doings. Wolfie was roasting himself on the flagstones. Bisou was halfheartedly chewing a stick. They were as bored as I.

I picked on. I can't give up now, I thought. I've got those five lemons, and the sugar...still, I could be reading a book. Or I could be carving--I need to get to work on a new piece. Or I could be writing on my blog. In fact, I could be writing about giving up on making dandelion wine!

And that is how I wrote this post.

6 comments :

  1. sounds like someone is going to be making lemonade today.

    i love this post. very much.

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  2. Laurie, actually, I think I'll try making limoncello...but I'll have to go out and get more lemons.

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  3. I love this post too. And limoncello or dandelion wine - the thought is making my mouth water.

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  4. Alix, I've been looking at limoncello recipes. They start with: "Take the zest of 15 lemons..." That kind of takes the zest out of ME!

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