Nature’s first Spring Tonic is up. Dandelions.

When will the poor, maligned dandelion get its due? Instead of being vilified, there should be a national holiday for Appreciation of the Dandelion.

I remember digging dandelions with Grammie for a good “mess” nearly every spring day from now ’til they burst into waving golden blossoms. The dandelion leaves by then were too bitter, even with the two changes of water. They had been putting their energy toward blooming.

Grammie would bring the first pot of water and greens to a boil for a couple of minutes, then drain, fill the pot again with water, throw in a chunk of fatback, bring to a boil, then simmer for some time. A bowlful, or “mess,” of those greens, topped with a big dollop of butter, doused with cider vinegar and sprinkled with s&p — doesn’t get much better. I will fix me at least one meal of just a large soup bowl of dandelion greens. Dining of the finest kind.

I’ve been in my little forest abbey going on 30 years. Every year when the dandelion blossoms turn to their blow-away gossamer seed head, I grab them and, dancing around the yard, wave them over my head to take flight while I sing “go and grow.”

This while others are dowsing their dandelion “weeds” with Roundup. And missing out on one of the most beneficial plants on earth. Thank you, Mother Nature and the Great Creator.

Every stage and every part of the dandelion is jam-packed with “medicine.”

First, there’re the “greens” — the leaves. I don’t dig the plant up in the spring; I just pluck off the inner ring of “lion’s tooth” leaves, aka the French “dent de lion,” for the deep-toothed, notched leaves. The French have another name for the plant also: “Pissenlit,” for its propensity as a diarrhetic.

I love my first mess of dandelions come spring, but then comes the lawn mower. So this year I sent away for a couple of packs of seeds — 5,000 seeds per pack. I scatter-seeded some in a fenced-in, safe-from-the-mower-blades, plot where I had a straw-bale garden a few years ago. I’m determined.

Dandelions grow like weeds, ’scuse the expression, and the plant soon turns its energy to producing its golden crown of blossoms. This makes the leaves super bitter. But if you catch the tight little buds before they open into flowers, they make a delicate and mild little treat, steamed lightly, and in a bowl with the ubiquitous butter, cider vinegar, and s&p.

The blossoms are tasty fried in a light tempura batter. And if you want a fine white wine for sipping in front of the wood stove come winter, use the blossoms for making several bottles.

Gather ye blossoms while ye may, for they quickly turn into gossamer angel-fluffed seed heads. Who among us has not, as children, delighted in blowing these seeds off into the air, where they spread out their umbrella and actually, powered by their own tiny gas tank, take flight, which can be several miles, depending on weather and their self-propelled energy source? (YouTube with search words: “The secret physics of dandelion seeds.” That would be a fun science fact for kids to know as they blow the seeds.)

Once the plant has done with its flowering, it again gets less bitter and produces food/medicine on into November. Then it’s time to dig up some root. Washed, dried and crushed, this is packed full of minerals and has been used for centuries for a coffee substitute or tea.

Dandelions are not a native American plant. The first colonists brought them over in the mid-1600s. Now they grow all over the world from top to bottom.

I’m not going to list all the health benefits of this miraculous plant here. The Latin term for dandelion is Taraxacum officinale, which translates to “official remedy.” But the most benefits are for the liver — and the liver performs a plethora of life-crucial processes. That speaks to the dandelion’s amazing healing uses. It could take several books.

Indeed, there are several books on the mighty dandelion; as well, as it listed as a medicinal remedy in just about every book on folk/herbal remedies. There are also dozens of YouTube videos — all at our fingertips.

If there's anything finer than a bowl of dandelion greens, it's a bowl of dandelion greens with a plate of fried brookies.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a graduate of Belfast schools, now living in Morrill.