A Fine Appreciation of Underrated Things

The humble dandelion is one of my favorite flowers. They joyfully brighten up otherwise ordinary lawns, offering visual variation through texture and color. The dandelion is also rich in many nutrients, such as vitamins K, A, and C, iron, calcium, and riboflavin, and they can be used medicinally to treat many ailments. They can even be made into wine.

dandelion

I recently subscribed to Wine Spectator, a magazine I first heard about while watching a PBS telethon; ironically I got it at no cost by using points from a recycling program. Despite my profound appreciation of fermented fruits, I hesitated to subscribe for years because I thought it would be a bit like my first visit to a winery when I was told by a snooty sommelier that I was not yet “ready” to try a certain wine. Instead, I have found it to be a lovely celebration of exceptionality, nuanced beauty, and delicacy — many of the ideals that I most cherish. It is also about agriculture, geography, food, and family stories. With each issue I travel around the world and have the opportunity to learn something new. While some of the profiled wines are out of my current reach— for consumption but not necessarily for investment if I had both proper storage and the ability to resist opening an intensely mysterious bottle — there are reviews of wines that are a good value, and even of those that from the label alone I had previously considered to be an inferior choice even within a limited budget.

Every day, we are surrounded by people, animals, natural objects, smells, colors, and other things that subtly add something unique and precious to our world. But too often these people, places, and things become background noise or are even dismissed because of their perceived irrelevance. Even I, as a naturally appreciative person who tries to intentionally be even more so, am often too quick to be apathetic or judgmental.

Like one of my favorite children’s storybook characters, Ferdinand the Bull, taught us — we need to just sit among the trees and smell the flowers. It is there that we will find the rarest beauty both in the world and inside ourselves.