A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


No one has ever accused me of having a green thumb.

But a yellow thumb -- that's another matter.

While it is widely known that my yard is where green things go to die, word on the weed underground is that the Walker property is "New York, New York" for dandelion seedlings: if you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere.

It all started about 37 years ago when I muttered my first swear word while digging dandelions in my parents' front yard. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it must have been a doozy because from that day on I have been the Johnny Appleseed of dandelions -- the Dandelion King, if you will -- with huge patches of the yellow weeds springing up everywhere I go. While ancient mariners learned how to search the skies for stars and constellations that would help them stay on course, I have it on good authority that astronauts routinely get their bearings in space by searching the landscape below them for that familiar patch of yellow that is my yard.

OK, I'm just kidding about that. But it is true that our yard is easy to pick out among the carefully manicured lawns in our neighborhood. Driving up the street you are struck by the lush green landscaping on every side. There's green here, green there, green everywhere until, suddenly, yellow. That's our house. You don't need our address as long as you're not colorblind.

And this year I have outdone myself in providing safe harbor for the hungry and homeless among the world's dandelion population. Not that I haven't tried to make it otherwise. I've already given the yard two heavy doses of weed-n-feed. But somehow, weed-n-feed applied to my yard ends up feeding the weeds. My grass is thicker, fuller and greener -- and my dandelions are more abundant and more vibrantly yellow -- than ever before.

Which is fine with Hailey and Allison.

Toward the end of the week last week, Hailey and Allison were out for a walk with Janet, their grandmother and our dear friend and neighbor. With her husband, Jerry, Janet maintains one of the lushest, greenest, most dandelion-free lawns in the neighborhood. They probably haven't had a dandelion in their yard since the Nixon Administration (blame it on disco). Which is probably why Hailey stopped in her tracks and gazed in wonder and awe at our front yard as they rounded the corner and our lawn came into view.

"Oh, Grandma, look!" she gasped excitedly.

"What is it, Hailey?" Janet asked, uncertain as to what it was that had so completely captivated her granddaughter's attention.

"Look at all those yellow flowers!" Hailey said, breathlessly. "How beautiful!"

Allison squealed with delight, and began running toward our yard, frolicking among our "flowers" like Dorothy in the poppy field in "The Wizard of Oz."

"Be careful, Allison!" Hailey called. "You'll break the flowers!"

"It's OK," Janet assured her. "Those are tough little flowers."

"They are sooo beautiful!" Hailey said. "Do you think we could pick some?"

Janet smiled. "I don't think the Walkers would mind if you picked a few," she said.

So the two little girls each carefully picked a full bouquet of our beautiful, bountiful dandelions, and took them home as a much-prized, greatly valued treasure.

They say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I guess that means that one man's weed can be another person's beautiful flower. It's a matter of perspective and priority.

Whether or not you are blessed with a yellow thumb.

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--- © Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through and