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July 14, 2004
What is that on the counter? Q wants to know.

It's borage, I tell him. Use the little leaves and the flowers in your salad this noon.

Well, the fruit flies got to it first and they've been feasting on it all night.

Oh, dear.
I sweep the borage leaves, blossoms and -- presumably -- fruit fly turds off the counter and into the compost pail. Sorry.

I do want him to try the borage, though. It's a new herb for us. Its leaves taste fresh, maybe a little like cucumber.

Herbs are irresistible. I want to grow them all, and I want to use them all. Now that I'm officially a crone, doesn't it make sense just to keep going and become sort of a witch, a concocter of mysterious healing draughts from roots and herbs?

The current list: garlic, chives, parsley, basil, marjoram, horseradish, mint, rosemary, sage, lavender, thyme, echinacea. We also have lily of the valley, in case we ever want to kill someone: it's highly poisonous, and you could give your victim water from a vase of its innocent-looking flowers. Curtains. I believe we could also bump somebody off with rhubarb leaves. I grow foxglove, whose botanical name is digitalis. How about that! Heart patients take digitalis.

But, at present, I use these things only for food, not for medicine. We drink the mint in a tea sometimes, but not for a sick stomach: only because we like the taste. Garlic's many healthful properties reach us only in the pesto we prepare with it and the basil, and in the Turkish tomato-eggplant dish Imam Biyaldi, which means "Then the Imam Fainted" -- inadvertent herbal medicine. I'm not wise enough in the ways of the herbs to be a witch.

But growing the herbs makes me feel anciently wise, like someone who knows a secret. A crone. Even if I don't know what to do with half of them. God put them here, secret medicines for us to discover. Some among us have learned their secrets; for the most part, I am not among them. But I nod sagely when someone asks me the name of one of them. As if I knew something.
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