The banks of the River Thouet are speckled with dandelions. They are so cheerful, with their rise-and-shine faces as if the plant world had just manifested the essence of smiles. Just one week before they were not here, but now they look up at me with their bright plump faces, the plumpest I have seen in all my days. My head is all a-tumble with kitchen potions and books of medicinal plants with tiny print and Latin names. Taraxacum. That is dandelion in Latin, but which actually sources to medieval Persian. It sounds too serious a name for these chubby-faced nurslings at my feet. And far more serious than the English folk name ‘piss-a-bed’ that it got for its diuretic properties. I bend down to pick one, and plop it on my tongue. Its petals feel like velvet. Its taste is surprisingly sweet, plump and fresh. I wonder why it fell out of fashion to put them in salads and sandwiches like the Victorain gentry.
My shadow strides before me, late afternoon sun warming my back. It is only March but I slip off my jacket and drape it over my shoulder. This morning, a friend in England had spoke of the greyness and bitter north-easterly winds. Here in the French Gâtine, it seems summer is already adjusting its hat. A rogue dandelion falls into the palm of my shadow’s hand. Three other dandelions align down my right hip like the belt of Orion. My midriff is vegetative, my entire form an arena for the rites of Spring.
There comes a time when the shadows must make their offerings. They have stayed too long in the dark and have almost forgotten themselves. Their agency is in their ability to digest the awe and horrors that tinge the circumference of even the sweetest of days. The shadow speaks truth in growls and hisses. They are no diplomats. But when they condone a breach from the underworld, and present you with a dark treasure. Take it. You will need it later on.