A William Wordsworth poem still offers an important truth today in its opening line: "The world is too much with us; late and soon...."

Amid lingering pandemic, economic uncertainty, sharp political divides, climate-change disasters, and threats of war, it's easy to wish we could just go back in time and be young children again, innocently and safely picking dandelions in our back yards and then puffing away their seed parachutes. Remember how we delighted in the lengths of their flights and descents?

But we can't go back. Instead, we have to settle for a one-question dandelion pop quiz while waiting for whatever happens next, far above our pay grades. Here's the quiz. What is a dandelion's seed-head (the white, fluffy stuff) actually called? Bzzzzt! Don't know? It's called a "clock." How does that make any sense?

According to an article in the Bray People section of the Irish news publication Independent.ie, a dandelion plant's "seed-head is known as a 'clock' because, in the past, children blew at the fluffy head and imagined they were telling the time by counting how many puffs it took to blow all the fruits away. Each puff was equivalent to one hour." (Prediction: dandelions will never make good smartwatches.)

There's at least one other reason to ponder dandelions, whether they're bright, young, yellow flowers or aging seed puff-balls ready to clock out of their current gig. The website PetalRepublic.com explains: "As a bright yellow but humble flower, the Dandelion is a symbol of growth, hope, and healing." Meanwhile, in its "clock" state, dandelions have "a strong association with hope, optimism, and wishes."

Winter 2022 may be the wrong time to be wishing for some dandelions. But we definitely could use some hope, healing, growth, optimism, and good wishes right now.

 Photo by Si Dunn.