Friday, July 20, 2012

The Ambrosial Scent

A small bed of mint grew at the west end of the porch
on the house where I grew up.
It had already been growing there 
when my parents bought the place in 1953, 
and may have been planted by one of the previous owners
who had lived there since the early 1900s.
Perhaps even before that.
It was--and is--a very old plant.


 I took a start of that mint when my husband and I
 bought our first home in the 1980s,
and I have planted a new start everywhere we've lived.
Mint dies back completely every winter,
so I am always relieved to see the first green shoots emerge each spring.
Mint loves moisture and is one of the few herbs, basil is another,
that will root and live in water.
And I have used that technique 
to increase the number of mint plants I grow each year,
but only because it is a plant that needs to be grown in a container
since it spreads prodigiously if allowed.

Maybe that is why mint has been so easily cultivated for centuries. 
Alice M. Coats says mint or myntys 
was likely introduced to England by the Romans,
which would have been well before the fifth century.
Not surprising for an herb that brings such pleasure.

According to Coats, the herbalist Gerard described mint  as having a scent 
that would "'stirre up the minde and the taste to a greedie desire ... '"
Coats also cites E. A. Bowles, who described mint rotundifolia
as the best variety for making mint sauce,
"'the ambrosial scent of which makes connoisseurs gaze deeply 
into each others' eyes.'"

I can't say mint has ever had such serious effects on me,
but it has been the source of  plenty of happy moments.

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