Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

April 24, 2008

Dandelions hold promise summer will bring

When I look out my window at this time of year I see an expanse of fresh green grass studded with golden circlets like coins spilled from a careless magician's pouch.

In a few days they will be replaced by gossamer globes, fit to light the palace of a fairy queen, and then the wind will tear the globes apart, and scatter tiny seeds, each carried by its own minute parachute.

To some people what has magic for me is only a crop of dandelions, tenacious weeds with long stubborn roots and prickly leaves that interrupt the smooth carpet of lawn.

Dandelions crop up in temperate zones all across the world. The name - "Lion's tooth'' - is French, but scientists think that the plant originated in the lush Euro-Asian region that gave us apples and peaches, tulips and poppies, and that it was deliberately brought to North America by the early settlers who found it a useful source of food and medicine.

They used dandelions as a tonic, as a laxative or diuretic, and they may have applied the oily sap in dandelion stalks to chapped hands or faces before the days of Oil of Olay.

More recently, the sticky stem-sap has been turned into latex, a substitute for rubber, although it proved not to be cost-efficient. And when coffee was not available in World War II, some people roasted dandelion roots and ground them up to make a black, bitter ersatz brew.

Dandelion leaves, on the other hand, have long been used as food. The young leaves, before blossoms appear, make a tangy addition to salads, and throughout the spring season, those leaves can be served as a vegetable, like spinach or turnip greens. I like them - but I have a vivid memory of the occasion when the dandelion dish turned out to be a disaster.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
  • Happy 200th to St. Paul's Lutheran congregation Today is the 200th birthday of the Lutheran congregation in Frostburg!

    On Aug. 14, 1808, 24 people joined in a communion service in the New Church, a log structure on the edge of what is now called the Prichard Farm.

    August 14, 2008

  • Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

    August 7, 2008

  • There's always something new under the sun! The popular press has been devoting a good bit of space in recent weeks to the new swimsuit, introduced by Speedo, which supposedly has contributed to the record-breaking times posted in the Olympic tryouts.

    July 24, 2008

  • Ward and his mansion stand proud in 'Burg I've had questions recently - not for the first time! - about William Ward and the house he built at 73 W. Main St. here in Frostburg.

    July 17, 2008

  • July 4th: Finding our beliefs Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

    July 3, 2008

  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

  • Ambulance service has key community role The Frostburg Area Ambulance Service is currently asking for our help in raising money for the protective clothing that new government regulations require.

    June 19, 2008

  • Planet continues to change; Big One on horizon? In a year that is not yet half over, 2008 has already written itself into the record books for extremes of hot and cold, rain and drought, tornadoes and floods and earthquakes. Our planet Earth has been in a constant state of change.

    June 12, 2008

  • In tennis, individuals face each other as equals I'm not a sports person, but I like to watch tennis. During the three big summer tournaments - Paris, London and New York, played on three different surfaces - my TV is on, and I check the newspaper for details that I have missed.

    June 5, 2008

  • Arts are obviously alive in Allegany County Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring concert of the Allegany Community Symphony Orchestra. The program was free, and nicely varied, and the instrumentalists were competent.

    May 29, 2008

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