My mother told me that her friend Claire used to say, "If dandelions were on a hill in Switzerland, they wouldn't bother you." Maybe that's true. Maybe in Switzerland they'd be beautiful, but through my eyes, in Seattle, they are a visual plague. My backyard is 8000 square feet, a massive field of green dotted with yellow DANDELIONS. Thanks to my prolific crop, and my inability to manage the weeds going to seed, my neighbors also have a dandelion issue to control. And they do....my immediate neighbors to the north and south both have immaculate yards, dandelion-free yards. Steve, my neighbor to the north, uses Round Up to control his infestation. George, my neighbor to the south uses a detailed technique involving a dandelion plucking tool, vinegar, and squirts of WD-40.
I can't count the number of times Steve has tried to convince me to use Round Up. "I can't." I tell him over and over. "I have chickens. I have a child. I have carrots." So far this year, he's spared me the offering of Round Up, but has mentioned the services of his teenage son and his buddies to "clean up the place." A few years ago, George, my south-side neighbor, gave me his dandelion plucker. It's antique, a beautiful old rusted relic. The way it works is by placing the plucker at the center of the dandelion, clamping the weed and then, holding the tool down with your foot, pulling out the plant. It might be operator error, but I think the root comes out about 40 percent of the time I use the plucker. But George swears by it, and his grass is yellow-free, so I persevere with the plucker. George's next step in maintaining his impeccable yard is vinegar. He sprays vinegar on any dandelions that do manage to grow. They die and he weeds them out. The final part of George's yard protocol is WD-40. When a dandelion starts to show (and George can tell), he squirts a little squirt of WD-40 on it and it stops its growth.
I love these guys. They are both about twenty years my senior and take good care of me. Steve regularly brings my garbage and recycle in and out and George and his wife JoJo ply Lucia with treats (she calls them her Seattle grandparents). They both have pristine, well-kept homes. They are both engaged community members. They both smile all the time. But there's something about George's energy. He's just calm. While he doesn't have a southern accent, you almost feel as if he does when he sings over the fence,"Hey there Laura, those chickens sure are cute."
I thought about George and Steve and the dandelions yesterday when I was practicing, and then again later in the day while teaching. During hard classes, whether I'm the student or the teacher, I have to remember that yoga, like life, is a process. My life issues--- fear of commitment, for example--- rear up and I have to deal. AGAIN. Or in yoga--- the persistent extreme light-headedness that plagues me in toe stand might go away, but then it comes back again. Just like the damn dandelions.
There are ways to deal with the issues, the poses, the weeds. There's Steve's way, to bitch-slap the dandelions with Round Up. One shot. "Boom. You're down dandelion." And there's George's way, a kinder, more compassionate way. "Pluck, spray, squirt." Little by little, step by step. Life is a process. Yoga is a process. Good, bad, hard, easy. I still desperately want to get rid of my dandelions, and maybe someday I will. Little by little, step by step.