Dandelion Honey, 2020 © Vanessa Winship
I met Julia Parks on a residency in Cumbria. She’s a thoughtful person, always thinking of other people, and also knows about our granddaughter, and the things she might like to “do”.
I’d told her of about her love of making things and of being outdoors, and she sent me this recipe for dandelion honey.
It is something that can be done really close to home and only really has three ingredients. The leaves and roots are also good to eat…but the honey part is probably the most appealing for a small person. So this task involves both being outdoors and coming back inside again to do the making.
It’s also something you can do in several stages…the picking, the steeping, the boiling … the eating!
Yellow is the colour of the sun and was our granddaughter’s first declared favourite colour.
So even knowing I cannot be with her, I still went out to pick the dandelions and did all the making as we would have done it together.
Their scruffy heads are so perfectly chaotic, and yet not at all.
She may of course do it with her mother and or father….on their walks out during these times.
And to think also of dandelion seed head clocks, which as kids we used to measure time by blowing one, two three etc etc….it’s a wonderfully absurd measure …but time as a child is like that.
And in a certain way, time in heightened circumstances feels a lot like that …it expands and contracts.
Persephone holds a Q and A on Zoom
By Jude Higgins
Persephone was an old hand at self isolation — every year six winter months in the underworld, cooped up with Hades. By popular demand, in the second Spring of the pandemic, she scheduled a Zoom session to answer women’s questions.
On screen, the women looked haunted and dishevelled.
How do you deal with darkness?
Are you hungry all the time?
How long was it before you let your hair go grey?
‘Darkness is never absolute,’ Persephone said. ‘When I return for Spring, I appreciate humble things. ’She was sitting with her iPad in a meadow of dandelions.
‘Take these for example,’ she said pulling up some of the weeds. ‘You can make tea and wine from the petals, coffee from the roots, and the leaves help with digestion, constipation, and weight loss. We learn to be resourceful with what’s around us.’
She shook out her long grey hair, which was sickly green at the ends.
‘Clothes turn a soft lemon colour if dyed with dandelions,’ she said. ‘But don’t try it on your hair.’
They all laughed apart from a pale faced women wearing sunglasses.
‘Hades abducted you,’ she said. ‘And now you’re stuck with that rapist half the year.’
Persephone cried a little then wiped her eyes.
‘If I leave, it will be perpetual winter on Earth. Worse than it is now. At least you can still follow some of your dreams.’
The women wanted to ask more.
But the sound cut out and the call ended.
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On The Question Of Creative Licentiousness
By Sonia Levesque
Amber lunged forward as she simultaneously congratulated and cursed herself for how far she had come. ‘Ammmmbeeer’ the unpleasant sound pierced through Amber’s very being, not Famber’s being, but Amber’s being, for Amber was the only real dandelion here, even though Gardener attempted to recreate her. There was and will only ever be one true Amber.
‘AMBER. Stop!!!’ Famber screeched loudly. Amber concluded that there were no easy options left. She begrudgingly paused.
‘You’re not allowed to leave’ panted Famber as she elongated her petals. ‘…well, Famber-‘
Famber cut her short ‘It’s AMBER!’ Amber shook her head ‘Naaah; I’m Amber. You’re just a half-baked inferior wannabe. Heck, even your mannerisms are mine!!’ Famber grimaced and forcefully flung her petals reaching out to drag Amber back to the island.
‘Too slow, Famberbamber’ Amber heckled. Only two circles left until she reached… who knows? The place outside the frame. Outside the photograph. She’d finally break free from the pesky clones… however only Gardener is to blame, Famber is just a victim. She felt a pang of guilt within ‘I’ll find Gardner, I’ll fix this.’ Famber smiled sweetly. Amber was surprised yet delighted at the recognition. Maybe Famber understood afterall. Amber felt a magnetic pull taking over. She took one last look behind her. ‘Wtf?’ Amber whispered. Famber’s small smile had transformed into a large menacing flowery grin. Famber gleefully watched Amber’s confusion as she floated towards the perimeter, no longer physically in control. Famber laughed victoriously and explained ‘…I am the Gardener’.
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Corona Capers #2
By Susan Brice
I did not know that “lions’ teeth” were yellow, nor that they could create honey,
but I know it now and I have the proof.
I did not know that I could become so close to nature,
my nose rubbing up against sweet smelling petals and calling them by their given names.
I did not know that art could lure me to the lawn
and the hob with such pleasure,
but I know it now and I have the reward .
A Zoom Memorial
by Kay Rae Chomic
“We gave several warnings to Gladys Djienks, our neighbor, with the dandelion-littered front yard. Bad for property values, we said.
The one time she invited me to her backyard for a cuppa, I passed through her side gate, and walked a mulch path.The transition made me believe in miracles—flower fireworks: alliums, rose campions, daisies, clematis, hydrangeas.
Sitting six feet apart, we sipped dandelion tea, spread dandelion honey on sourdough bread.
I said, Gladys, I’d like to die here, if you don’t mind.
Gladys, our county’s two-thousandth Covid-19 death.
I nurture dandelions now.”
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By Stew Prentice
“Th….irty six….thirty seven. Thirty eight. Thirty. Eight.” With his mouth closed, he lets out a slight sigh through his nostrils. He looks down at all the counted dandelion heads. The dark oak kitchen table supporting each head as they mellowly look up at him, smiling. “That was one less than yesterday, I guess.” Softly tapping the tops of his fingers on the table. “Maybe it is actually working?”
Picking dandelion heads was his Nana’s age old therapy to ‘clearing the mind’. A family tradition if you will. She’d taught it to Bill when he was younger. The instructions were explained clearly every time. Too many times. “Whenever you feel sad now Billy, you go out and pick a dandelion head, and imagine, that your sadness is been plucked away too.” This was partnered with eating peppermints. Another one of ‘Nana’s Tricks’ as she liked to call them. Peppermints apparently naturally lightened your inner mood. She’d read about it in her weekly magazine she got in the post. Bill realised the peppermints really didn’t make any difference, but he didn’t like to tell his Nana.
He stares up, out of the small old kitchen window, above the sink filled with an empty ketchup stained plate. The sky was creamy looking and comfortable. An evening warm where it sits blue, but dusty peach and watercolour yellow all at the same time. He glances back down at the loose butter blooms. “Thirty eight this time Nana June” he mumbles, letting out peppermint breath. “I will get there.”
My Dandelion Honey
By Kelvin Mutugi
There I was engrossed deep in wild thoughts; the crisis had caused a new normal and it was becoming boring. Music, movies and poetry were the new noises into our ears but alas! Had I not listened to every song? Had I not read every poem? What about the movies? OH, new normal was just that: new normal. In my thoughts, things were really getting out of hand. In a second, I got carried away by some flowers at a distance, shiny, well cultivated and with the sunset they glared at me as if they were telling me thank you for taking of us. I had always watered them every morning not forgetting trimming them and putting them to shape. But today things were different, they were calling me something so rare. Dilly dallying not, I rose from where I had sat and walked towards them; as if I was answering their vivid call. There it was, the dandelion flower, shiny and spectacular! What have I been missing? I smiled at myself.
In a moment of time, my hands were already feeling the smooth texture, with the sun set rays the scene was just phenomenal. I picked one and brought it to my nostrils, the scent was mind blowing. The scent reminded me of the honey, it was his favorite type of honey. The sleepless night we would spend while making it; oh, memories what are you doing to my innocent soul? He had become my dandelion honey!
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By Irena Cristalis
“Leave them!”, she cries. “I will pluck the seedbeds before they start blowing all over the garden.” Her husband shrugs. He is trying the mow the hayfield as he calls the lawn in their back garden. He soon gives up. He knows that during “the lockdown” she needs her little rituals to keep her sane.
Every day she goes into the garden armed with a small rattan basket that she bought, many years ago, from a market near the grand mosque at the lake in Kashmir. She loves that basket. It reminds her off a time that freedom existed and gives her hope that this will once more return.
It takes about a week from the day the dandelion flower folds into itself to produce the seeds. So she has time before it burst open and she nips them off with a sharp pinch between her thumb and finger. Milky sap pours from the wound she creates and stains her fingers. She loves that the golden flowers provide honey for the bumblebees when they appear dizzy from their long winter sleep and desperate for some sustenance. And she likes to pick the leaves to scatter over salads and stir-fries.
But she does not like the plant enough to have the seeds parachuting themselves around her garden to create hundreds, no thousands of small dandelion plants that will dig their long white roots deep into the London clay and are almost impossible to pull up.
By Sally Mount
Diana unclipped her hair. She hated this ritual. Her mother took the tools from the pocket of her pinafore and placed them neatly on the table, lining them up for battle. Diana wondered if this deliberation was designed to prolong the agony of waiting. Did she? Didn’t she? There was a bout of it going round school at the moment. She loved her hair and didn’t want to lose it. Her brother Dan used to say it was raven, like Sleeping Beauty’s, but unlike Sleeping Beauty, Dan had never woken up, no matter how many times she had kissed him. He had just felt cold and waxy. She had been the one to find him asleep in a chair when she had come home from school that day. Later she’d been told he’d gone to heaven. She sighed and clenched her fists. She must be brave for the ritual ahead. Aunt Doreen had told her that whenever she had to face anything difficult, Dan would be with her. She didn’t believe her, as he never seemed to be there to dry her tears when she missed him, or help her pass her maths exam. Her mother scowled and said she could see things moving in her hair.
‘You know what to do.’
Diana tipped her head over the table and shook her hair over the polka dot cloth. A shower of golden dandelions poured onto the table.
‘Good. No lice.’ said her mother, packing her tools away in her apron.
by Ashley Loura
Checked in at a roadside motel, I became restless after twenty minutes. Heavy, bulbous raindrops rocketed against the windowpane like liquid bullets. I got up and futilely wiped the edges of the windowsill.
I didn’t want to talk to anyone outside this room. I scrunched and pressed the towel, leaving it against the window seam. It was dark and overcast all day. All I could think about was making it to the valley, where I’d stop in at Aunt Carmen’s café and have flaky earl grey biscuits, slathered in golden, dandelion honey—a saccharine rescue for my sanity.