Today I’ve been telling time via dandelion. Although this method of horticultural horology is notoriously unreliable (according to my mother, I used to get very indignant when it didn’t work), it is something I think about whenever I see a dandelion gone to seed. It’s an ingrained response, like salivating at the thought of Frazzles. And I’ve been thinking about dandelion clocks a lot recently as two dandelions formed part of the tutti I picked back in April and they’ve been transforming before my eyes.
There is a lot of folklore associated with dandelions, a lot of it to do with bed wetting, hence the children of Fife nicknaming them pee-the-beds. Which is unfortunate as it’s said if you touch a dandelion after 4pm your bladder will be a-go go all night, and I plucked one of my tutti dandelions just after 6pm. It’s also said that the fairy seeds of the dandelion can carry thoughts and wishes on the wind to a loved one. So as I stood out in the slightly bracing wind of the early evening, I had a quiet word before starting to puff.
Now I did make a video, but as I was so intent on huffing and counting, I didn’t realise I was mostly filming my feet. But here’s the unedited audio:
17 huffs = 5pm. Except I did the experiment just after 6pm. I was about to get all indignant when I remembered we’re on British Summer Time. And what if flowers refuse to buy into that particular social construct, preferring, as it were, to keep to GMT? And if that’s the case, it would therefore make it 5pm. Boom! Folklore for the win! I felt a glow, vindicated, like all my childhood failures had been cancelled. And a little dizzy. After all, 17 huffs in a bracing wind is rather a lot.
Nozedar, A. (2012) The Hedgerow Handbook, Recipes, Remedies and Rituals, London, Square Peg
Daniels, C.L. & Stevans, C.M (eds) (2003) Encyclopædia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World,Hawaii, University Press of the Pacific
Vickery, R. (2019) Vickery’s Folk Flora, An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson