I picked a passel of dandelion blossoms. The two dogs were understandably confused. Their noses tried to sniff each bloom as I plucked it and they kept trying to get me to go lift stuff up so they could hunt mice. They both also looked toward the gate, hoping I’d grow a heart and let them frolic in the organic onion field. As just last year, this delicate and cannot be touched by dog paws field held alfalfa and a lot of random weeds– and nobody cared what the dogs did to it. Don’t you feel a lot better about what your hamburgers eat now, dears? The fields about the house, actual stretches of tilled earth that solemn American farmers turn into plants they harvest and turn into pennies every so often, have been thoroughly plowed, smoothed, planted. A special drip irrigation system has been set up, too! As the rains here stay on the other side of the mountains; most of Eastern Oregon is in what’s called a rain shadow.
But the dogs, ah, they like to chase each other after digging giant holes in that once-an alfalfa field, going after field mice or field gophers or phantom rodents of some kind. Bunnies have moved in but the dogs can’t outrun them, which the bunnies know. And yours truly draws the line at bunny slaughter. That’s my line in the volcanic dirt. [As this area once sported volcanoes, and we have several active volcanoes nearby, like Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, and yes, Mt. St. Helens. Bwha ha ha.]
I picked dandelion blooms for two whole days. I froze what I had picked, hoping they’d still work for, yes, homemade dandelion wine. Which seems absurdly easy on paper to make. Dandelion heads, some yeast, a shit-ton of sugar, an orange and a lemon, some water. Seal it all up for about two weeks, let it bubble. Strain it, then pour that liquid into jars, seal those jars up, let that sit for a week or so. Easy-peasy, easy breezy Cover Girl! I found this recipe, by the way, over on Allrecipes. As I am underemployed [to be so fucking coy it hurts others to brush against my coyness], I was looking for both a project and some cheap ass booze. Having an imaginary crack addiction is not what it’s cracked up to be. Ha ha. Ha. Okay, anyway! Also, I vaguely remember my mother trying to make this concoction. My mother actually did the whole home canning, pickle your own pickles thing you see in movies about heroic farm women from the Ukraine, dubbed into bad English. She wasn’t from the Ukraine, she was actually born here in America, but you get the vague point, yes? I still have her sweet pickle recipe, it’s actually in a Lutheran cook book
put out by my church…yes, yours truly actually has a church in her background. [That’s why so many of my characters are ALSO LUTHERANS. Amazeballs indeed. Now you know.] I have never attempted to turn cukes or cucumbers into actual pickles. Both my grandmothers also canned and froze produce and made it perform later on at the dinner table. There were canning jars involved and baggies usually full of partially cooked corn and pressure cookers and sugar and fresh dill and steam rising from pots of sliced up this or that.
Now, my boiled dandelion-infused water bubbles away on a top shelf, where it’s dark and cool. As per the instructions. The dark and cool part, not put said water turning into, hopefully, wine, being put on a top shelf. I figured that if the magic water were out of the way and sort of out of sight, no one would pour it out or knock it over or in any way, mess with it. It has to ferment until the bubbles stop. The recipe was vague about that, ten to fourteen days. A creationist would crow about how science ‘knows nothing but God knows all’. Which is a way of reminding myself that if you want to see something there, you will. Even if nothing is there to see. Patterns dominate the human mind. We want to see patterns, we want to make connections and tidily label everything. Perhaps I’m reading far too much into my pre-dandelion wine?
Alas, now it’s just a wait to see what happens. I’ve made wine before, accidentally, with some, yes, homemade grape juice and sugar. I simply put some, yes, homemade grape juice, as in my mother picked the grapes and turned them into juice, into a small bottle with a lot of sugar. And capped it tight. Did I mention I was a kid when I did this? I was a kid. So mentioned. The dark purple turned into a sort of electric-looking paler violet. Hello, science! I took the cap off, after X amount of time. As in I don’t remember precisely how long that grape juice and sugar had a violent, passionate affair in that small bottle. It doesn’t seem very long, as I was not a patient kid. I’m not a patient adult. Or I’m still a kid and my adultness has not yet set in. Anyhoo!!
I uncapped my experiment. Yep, I’d managed to make about the most potent little couple swallows of wine imaginable. My grandpa thought it tasted good– that’s some powerful stuff. Yes, I did taste it. Wowsers indeed, it tasted quite different than plain ole grape juice. Did I take up wine making as a hobby?
No. No, I didn’t.
But here I am, many many many years after that innocent little science experiment with homemade juice and sugar, waiting now to see what happens with my homemade dandelion juice and some sugar. The circle has come round again. The circle has no end and no beginning, because it’s a circle and if it had an end or beginning, it would be some other geometric structure. And then I wonder how many dead bugs are floating in my bubbling away magic water into, hopefully, drinkable wine mixture. Then consider that dead bugs also figure, a lot, in legitimate wine. Even the Boone’s Farm varieties. As bugs are everywhere. Everywhere. They are everywhere. I watched a giant daddy long-legs casually stroll across my books just above my desk. I blew air toward it and it scampered away, thoroughly embarrassed, I hope, at strolling about out in the open where I had to watch it.
But I will, of course, keep all you darlings and dears and lovebugs updated as to the progress of my weed wine. Oh– sorry, there’s no marijuana in it. I meant as in dandelion, not cannabis. Always be clear in even your vaguest, most innocuous blog posts!
Though, I do love the cheerful yellow flowers that dot the lawn, no matter what you do to them. Robert Fulghum, yes, I have read him, shhh…wrote about his love of dandelions. I, too, share that love. Even though I massacred quite a few dandelions and then boiled them alive. I’ve read that plants can send chemical signals to each other, warning each other about big attacks or stuff going on or plant gossip…I just sort read the headline and skimmed it, because I’m a modern woman who doesn’t bother reading the entire article. I just give a like if I like the headline. And then usually find out later I just liked a pro-Nazi article. Ugh!! Gag me with a spoon!! And then I have to backtrack, erase my like and go from there. The lesson gained from my pro-dandelion wine ramble is to always read the content before giving a like or a retweet or a thumbs up or assigning some emoji that indicates your positive take on said contents. Or just stick to animal rescue articles and videos. But there are pratfalls and traps there as well. Sigh. You can’t win. That’s why cat videos are so popular, in my opinion. As liking anything else garners you weird looks from relatives, impassioned comments from advocates, and general WTF is wrong with you from total strangers. Cats are funny. Everyone likes cats. We can all agree that a cat playing hide and seek in a box is generally amusing and non-controversial. Carnivores to vegans like to watch kittens playing with a feather duster. Cats, the universal internet safe choice. Cats.
Wow, danger noodle. Tangent. Quit yer cryin’, dandelion!
Bet you thought I couldn’t work that title in, huh?