HomePublicationBurbankChris Erskine: When Life Hands You Dandelions …

Chris Erskine: When Life Hands You Dandelions …

Most poetry doesn’t send me — I’m more into limericks and fight songs. But every once in a while, poetry stirs a bit of wistfulness … like a curl of smoke from a country chimney.
My favorite poet? James Taylor, followed by George Carlin and Willie Mays.
I watch Taylor in old videos, where he futzes with his guitar between songs, adjusting the capo, taking his sweet time. Like a movie legend — or a toddler — everything he does is a little fascinating.
Is that star power or genius? Maybe both. Marry them together and you have a legend.
Slowly passing sailing ships and Sunday afternoon,
Like people on the moon I see, are things not meant to be …
A beautiful spring day stirs me too, particularly a California spring day — damp and swollen and green like money. As with Taylor, California has star power. Its soul is made of sunsets.
The other day, I’m walking my preening pet wolf (White Fang), the unwashed phenomenon. Like the New Testament, she is my portal to the spiritual world.
Anyway, I’m admiring all the billowy weeds and telling her about the dandelion wine we’re about to make … just two thirsty goofs making the best of a lousy lawn.
“Expect it to be fairly tart,” I’m telling her just as a random orange rolls down a driveway and clunks me in the foot.
Till then, it was a pretty typical Saturday. We’d almost been killed twice by cars in two minutes, the first time by someone coming, the second by someone going.
I get it. They’re in a hurry.
My daily goal these days is not to get bent out of shape over stupid little things, which is harder than it sounds in L.A., given inflation, traffic and some dolt in Dubai who has hacked my debit card.
Each week, a new challenge. Am I up to it? We’ll see. Even Batman has bad days.
So here’s what happens: At the last minute, the second car lets us pass. But I could tell they weren’t too happy about it … grim in the lips. Even their SUV sighed a little on its chassis.
So, on a perfect spring day, Fang and I are dreaming about baseball and dandelion wine while passing the farmers market, which is busy with the kind of folks who really get off on bringing their own shopping bags.
Here’s a thing I don’t get about capitalism: Why are farmers markets so expensive?
As you know, chain supermarkets are now luxury outlets — have you seen what they’re getting for coffeecake?
Economists always explain that the middleman collects an outsized chunk of your supermarket spending, taking advantage of the farmers’ hard work.
In a perfect world, the farmers markets would undercut that, sell far more strawberries straight from the fields — no union dues, no marketing costs. The farmer would get his fair share. The shopper would spend a bit less. Everyone goes home happy.
But farmers market strawberries are always a third more than at the supermarket. And yikes, the fish.
Turns out middlemen are actually good for America.
I can also conclude that there will always be enough consumers with too much money that high-priced farmers markets will thrive, no matter what they charge for a slab of salmon.
The same goes for houses.
Look, good for them. No one ever said capitalism was fair; it’s merely better than all the other systems. It’s just that capitalism defies everything — simple logic and supply-and-demand. Its corrective elements are like parachutes that never open.
Yet …
Fruit is free right now. It is rolling down your driveway and clunking me in the shoe. After the recent winds, oranges and lemons are stacked in piles along the curb, waiting for the trash collector to come along, at which point he collects the finer specimens in a box and sells them at farmers markets on weekends.
“Society is an animal, just like the rest of us,” I explain to White Fang, quoting novelist John Carpenter.
“Thanks,” she said, taking it as the compliment I intended.
Meanwhile, dandelions are free too.
My personal recipe for dandelion wine, which I’ll start selling at next week’s farmers market:
— Bunch of boiled dandelions (the yellow yolky parts, sans pesticides)
— Some sugar, some yeast
— A free orange, sliced, a wedge of lemon
— Marry them together on a gentle spring day
— Cork it, baby!
No expensive marketing. No middleman.
And a bargain at 75 bucks.

Shouldnt farmers market produce be cheaper than at the store

For more details on making dandelion wine, please Google Allrecipes dandelion wine. For the world’s greatest book on wild bears, please find “What the Bears Know” on Amazon.

First published March 21-23 in Outlook Newspapers.


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