Have you ever had it? Do you know anyone who makes it? Each spring as the dandelions begin to flood the open spaces along the highway, in sidewalk cracks, and heaven forbid our yards, I am reminded of my great-grandma and her dandelion wine.
“Pride of lions in the yard. Stare, and they burn a hole in your retina. A common flower, a weed that no one sees, yes. But for us, a noble thing, the dandelion.” –Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
She died when I was in high school, but every year until then my sister, my aunt and I would gather the biggest yellow dandelions heads that we could find. My mom had a BIG green tupperware bowl that we would have to fill. (We still have the bowl; I think it was much bigger when I was a kid…) The three of us would sit in a field covered with these weeds. Pluck the heads and fill the bowl, and pluck the heads and fill the bowl, for as long as it took till Great-Grandma had enough.
There is not a spring that goes by that I don’t think of that plentiful field and the green bowl and Eva Huebner, the memories of her home. Her old fashioned ways: she ground her coffee with a hand grinder, wound her LONG braid around her head, and made her own wine. Each Christmas she filled a pillow case with hard little German cookies, Peppernuts.
In the fall of 2004 I had a chance to taste for the first time Great-Grandma’s dandelion wine. It was the last bottle left, made in 1977. Honestly, the memory of filling that BIG green bowl in a field of yellow was much more pleasant than the wine, which could have put hair on my chest. For me, that nemesis of a weed brings with it memories of happy times, and just a little longing for an opportunity to help make dandelion wine again.