When it’s springtime on the prairie
And the birds begin to sing,
And young blades of grass come poking
Through the earth, with other things,
Comes a morning mama beckons,
And as she hands me her soup pot,
Says “I bet today’s the day for
finding greens,–I’ll bet a lot!”
Fresh greens, I hanker longingly,
It’s been a long winter without,
Not counting string beans strung and dried.
Of that there is no doubt—there’s
Brooklime found in ditches, and
Cattails from the pond
Can be eaten in a salad
With chickweed, and dandelion;
Great Burdock can be eaten
In a salad or just raw,
Lamb’s Quarters some may call a weed
But steamed it’s not at all.
Clover can be used for tea
But in salad is still good,
Thistle can be nice with greens,
And the roots can be cooked and eaten.
Around the farm and fields throughout,
There’s plenty greens for taking,
But I’ve saved the best for last,
The dandelions that we savor.
To clean them mama holds the leaves
And cuts the bottom root away;
The very inner growth is shook
And gently thrown away;
The tender stems and leaves are put
In mama’s biggest cooking pot,
Then she takes them to the well
And washes them a lot;
She cooks up strips of bacon
In a skillet ‘til its crisp
Then adds vinegar to the drippings
Making sure it doesn’t drip.
Some boiled eggs will be sliced up
And laid upon the greens,
The dressing is poured over and
It’s the finest thing I’ve seen.
Mama tosses the greens lightly
And puts bacon on my plate,
We think that Dandelions are
The best thing that we ate.
–Sandra Lee Smith
Sandy’s note: two of my Canadian girlfriends and I created a poetry challenge; we took turns creating a monthly list for our poetry; in 2010 I was inspired to write a series of poems about a family of pioneers, in the words of one of the children. Girlfriend Doreen put these poems into a booklet and added some old-time photographs to make it complete. We kept our poetry group going for a few years but I am proudest of my “An American Childhood” subtitled “Mama in the Kitchen” – Sandra Lee Smith