Herb magic

The wind stampeded through the lot, picking up napkins and knocking over plates, and leaving smears of mustard and coleslaw in its wake. The market employees, it seemed, had all managed to position themselves away from their shady tents in order to absorb warmth from available patches of sunlight. I had abandoned the demo station, and was standing next to Loretta and Sandy watching helplessly as gusts threw themselves into the tent’s billowing white walls.

“I’ve heard of tents actually lifting off of the ground and impaling people before.” Sandy said, sounding depressed.

Both Loretta and I looked at her, quizzically

“..at another market” she continued. We all exhaled hard, and stared back at the tent. We were like innocent villagers, watching from a distance as enemy troops ransacked our home.

A strange rustling was brewing behind us. I swung around and observed a parting sea of market shoppers as a large white van emerged. The bright-eyed and sunny, Mrs. Bonnie Dehn (affectionately referred to as the MN herb lady, because she and her husband are associated with the delicious herbs that they grow on their farm, Dehn’s Gardens) was in the driver’s seat. The van stopped at our feet and Bonnie jumped down, smiling and waving as she rushed to open the side door. Within moments all thoughts of the wind had vanished and we were reclaiming our fallen empire by bringing in herbs, terracotta pots, and potting soil.

As she hooked on the microphone for her market talk, I mentioned to Bonnie that earlier in the morning Loretta and I had a tasting of several of different varieties of Dehn’s farm’s mint, including apple, pineapple, chocolate, and orange mint.

“Oooooh, try THIS!!” Bonnie said, excitedly, and she picked a little red bud off of one of the herb plants and handed it to me. I placed the flower on my tongue and tasted.. petal, with a hind of grass, then nothing..and then..

POOF.

All at once like a shot of compressed air, the pineapple flavor exploded on my palate, and as quickly as it came, it was gone.

“Wow, what was that?” I asked.

“It was pineapple sage, here, rub the leaves it’s very fragrant”. Bonnie pet the sage gingerly with the flat side of her fingers, the way one would if they were to carefully stroke a chinchilla, or brush a harp without making a sound. I ran my fingers over the leaves and inhaled their scent, which was fresh and cleansing, like being washed with rain.

The wind continued, but Bonnie had barricaded herself behind a fortress of herbs and laughter. One by one the people gathered, feeling assured by her presence that they were safe from the chilly assaults of the wind. A few soldiers went down, the tri-colored sage, the lemon thyme, and the Greek oregano, but Bonnie plowed through her talk as though it were a mild and temperate summer day. The entire time she spoke, I asked myself why I don’t simply surround myself with herbs all the time. It feels so good to be around them, yet I always seem to talk myself out of buying them, fearing that I will be neglectful, or harvest too much too soon and end up killing the plant. Fortunately for me, Bonnie doesn’t let people go around empty handed.

“Here honey” Bonnie said, before leaving after her talk. She was clutching the edges of a pot overflowing with a cornucopia of herbs. “Take this home and put it on your windowsill.”

I practically skipped to my car, herbs in hand, mentally hooking their flavors together and taking them apart as though I were a kid on Christmas morning having just received a kit of Legos.

I love my job.

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