Monday, February 28, 2011

Dandelions and Sheep Sorrel: keeping an open mind.

Today, I had one of those little "ahas" that will literally alter the way I view the land around me.

Meet sheep sorrel (also known as Rumex acetosella, or sour dock).

It's been in all the lawns and land I've ever lived on, and I've spent more than half a dozen springs now grousing to myself as I toss it onto the weed pile while turning over my herb bed. Today, I learned that it's not only edible, but also incredibly good for you (high in antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium) , and quite good in soups. What looked like an invasive annoyance yesterday looks like something to harvest and chop up and chew and dry and season things with today. It was like magic, or maybe more like Christmas: suddenly, I had something excellent that I hadn't had before.

Same goes for dandelions: besides bringing sheer joy and whimsy to my childhood days when I watched the freshly blown seeds floating weightlessly through the air, I'd come to view it as something of a pest, if not something outright evil (because my absurd definition of "good" meant a useless lawn with only grass on it). It wasn't until I was pregnant with Naomi that I realized that it's taproot was excellent for relieving water retention and it's leaves were packed with copious amounts of vitamin C. Suddenly, I didn't have a "crappy backyard"; I was rolling in a wealth of edibles.

Obviously, the plants didn't change. My limited understanding had been expanded, and fear, vanity and ignorance has been removed from my understanding of what was living and growing and thriving around me. There is much I don't know. There are many things I fail to understand. My limited understanding of good doesn't define where the line between "useful" and "waste" is actually drawn. The evolution of ourselves as individual humans depends largely on our capability to discern the difference between prudence and ignorance, and the ability to acknowledge our limited vantage point before casting an unfortunate judgement.

Such has been the lesson of sheep sorrel in my life today. {/sermonette}


  1. yes, I like to eat sorrel too but I heard that it's only best if they are new leaves and not older ones. And they taste a bit lemony.

  2. Hey Ash,

    Daniel and I are reading through the Laura Ingalls Wilder series and came across this tidbit today and thought of you.

    Laura and Mary "liked the long walks together in the wind and sunshine, picking lilacs and buttercups and eating sheep sorrel. The sheep sorrel's lovely curled lavender blossoms. The clover-shaped leaves and thin stems had a tangy taste. 'Sheep sorrel tastes like springtime,' Laura said. 'It really tastes a little like lemon flavoring, Laura,' Mary gently corrected her."

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  4. Ahhh, Mary and Laura. :D

    A poet and a realist if there ever were a pair of such! ;oP <3 I need to let Esther read those books.