The Mast-Head: Dandelion Spring

“Let’s help the pollinators, and in doing so, help ourselves,”

After Matthew Lester died this January, his mother, Dana Miller Lester, posted something online about dandelions. 

Dandelions had been a special thing for Matthew. He had become interested in them as a freshman at East Hampton High School, learning that they were a favored food for honeybees. In a letter to this newspaper three years ago, Matthew challenged the people of East Hampton not to put herbicides on their lawns in order to protect the common flower often thought of as a weed. “Let’s help the pollinators, and in doing so, help ourselves,” he wrote.

Dandelions are everywhere this spring in as massive proliferation as I can remember. The Hook Mill green dapples with them. Like stars at night, the grass between our office and the library is studded with their modest yellow faces. They freckle the triangle that sets James Lane off from Main Street. In the distance, they climb up the small hill in the yard at the Mulford Farm.

As an Eagle Scout project, Matthew envisioned planting a garden suited for bees at the farmhouse museum on North Main Street. His Scout troop intends to see it done in his memory.

Dana works at White’s in the village, and when I saw her this week I mentioned that I wanted to write about Matthew and the dandelions he treasured. Dana and I had been in high school at more or less the same time way back when, and I am always glad to see her, but Matthew’s suicide left me at a loss for words with her. The dandelions finally gave me something to say. 

I think about Matthew every time I see them, I told her, and I’ve seen  them a lot lately. The bees less so. Maybe it is too cold for them yet, with gray fog-filled wind blowing in from the ocean. 

The thing about the dandelions is that I wonder if there are really so many more of them this year or if, because of Matthew, I just see them more clearly. The bees, once they do show up again, will find plenty to feast upon, a fine honor to a young man gone too soon.