Stop & Smell the Dandelions This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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     I didn’t get any roses this year. I walked around school on February 14 and saw dozens of girls holding single roses or entire bouquets. The soft, delicate beauty in their hands seemed to jeer at me, their absence in mine pointing out that I had no significant other, no one to pick out a perfect bouquet and ignore the enormous price because of their undying devotion to me. I was prepared to have a full-blown pity party.

I love roses. Who doesn’t? They represent all things romantic, beautiful and fragile; they also smell amazing. But roses are difficult to keep and their uses are few; all you can do is stare at them or put the petals in a bath, if you’re into that kind of thing. Roses are difficult to grow and require much attention in order for them to thrive ... yet their benefits are very limited. Not to mention that their painful thorns don’t allow you to pick them with bare hands. Where’s the fun in that? Roses are just for looks. Sure, a rose makes a sweet gift, but it lasts no more than a week and once the petals have wilted, nothing is left. Exhausted, its singular purpose has been completed.

Even with all this in mind, I looked down at my empty hands and still felt sorry for myself. I went home and rather than mope in my room, decided to go outside and enjoy nature. I went to the field behind my house, a field riddled with weeds, thistles and garden misfits of all shapes and sizes. As I gazed upon these despised plants of the horticultural world, one specimen caught my eye. One of the most hated, underrated and misunderstood weeds of all: dandelions. Most people crush them with their feet in pursuit of more valuable, cultivated flowers.

I looked around and became aware that there were no better flowers than those swaying gently around my legs. So I started picking. Desperately, I snatched up as many as I could. Inside, I found a vase to plop them in. I set them on my bedside table, and there they remain looking almost exactly as when I picked them. They are a reminder that even if I have no one to buy me roses, dandelions are there, they are free, and never stop growing.

Dandelions most definitely represent the finer things in life. They are practically indestructible; the more you try to pick them, the faster they grow. They taste wonderful in salads, soups, and can be used to make tea and wine. They’re higher in betacarotene than carrots and contain more iron and calcium than spinach as well as multiple vitamins. Imagine all that from a free weed that grows on virtually every lawn!

The practical uses for dandelions are many, and yet, their aesthetic value is unsurpassed even by the exquisite rose. Their stunning yellow against the green carpets of grass is the image of how I felt the day after my excursion outdoors, when I discovered something incredible.

When I returned to the field to walk among the cheerful dandelions, I found that many had transformed overnight into soft white puffs! In the instant I saw them, I felt a sense of hope. You see, the most fascinating thing about dandelions is their method of reproduction: their once-beautiful petals turn into weightless vessels for seeds that, when given a stir from a breeze or a blow from the lungs of some wishful child, take flight and float, sometimes for miles, until the breeze gently releases them and they take root.

Knowing this, I realized that the simple dandelions I had picked held so much more value than any rose anyone could give me. They exist not only to be beautiful, but also to disperse their benefits, loveliness and unmade wishes to the rest of the world. Could you say the same for a rose?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the February 2006 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.






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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

irtfaz said...
Nov. 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Super cute. Critique - I felt like the paragraph about its helpfulness was pulled from a science article - the tone changed from lyrical to informative. I understand why, and I liked the thought behind it, but maybe it could flow a bit more. 

But great job, and I agree - roses are RIDICULOUS in some ways... dandelions are so much more fun :)

 
ChristianCowgirlCC said...
Mar. 24, 2010 at 12:13 pm
I really love this. It represents how I feel about dandelions. I love dandelions, and it seems odd to me that people don't see how incredible they are. They grow anywhere! They are beautiful and tasteful. But oh well. This is really a great piece. (:
 
Inkspired said...
Sept. 14, 2009 at 6:10 pm
LOVE THIS! This is so heartfelt and so true. Dandelions are the BEST! I wrote a poem about them, check it out! Anyways, you've written a really spectacular piece. Keep it up!
 
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