Down to Earth: Fresh Mint Encounters

| June/July 1996

Fresh Mint Syrup 

“But I want leaves in mine, too,” I whimpered.

I associate fragrances with events in my life. One vivid memory from my early childhood comes back to me occasionally when I sip iced tea garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.

When I was very small, my parents had a group of friends, all with young children. The women took turns hosting parties, and each tried to outdo the others with fancy little sandwiches, teas, and cakes. On this particular day, we were gathered at a two-story farmhouse with green shutters on the tall windows; the yard held huge shade trees and a wide expanse of lush bluegrass lawn that felt wonderful on bare feet. We children were playing upstairs while the mothers visited.

The stairs were steep. I’d just drawn a picture and ran excitedly out of the playroom to show it to my mother. The warm brown oak floors had been waxed and polished to a shine, and when my foot hit the bright handwoven rug on the top landing, it launched me into the air and out over the steps in less time than it took to say, “Oops!”

The ladies below heard “thump, bump, bang, thump, thump,” and finally “kerbam” as I landed on the bottom step. They rose up in alarm, crowding around my mother, who had gathered me up in her arms. As soon as I caught my breath, I began to wail for all I was worth. Mother turned pale, and her hands shook.

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