High Thymes in Pecan Springs

Read about the fictional herbal town of Pecan Springs.

| February/March 1995

Pecan Springs, Texas (located halfway between Austin and San Antonio) is a sister city to Lake Wobegon, a small town up north. But the Pecan Springers have something the Lake Wobegoners don’t: the Myra Merryweather Herb Guild. China Bayles, who runs a fictional herb shop in this fictional Texas town and whose adventures are related in such mystery novels as Thyme of Death, Witches’ Bane, and Hangman’s Root, tells us all about it.

Neither event was minor in the life of the town, although it might be argued that the Herb Guild has had a more beneficial effect. The steam train only brought jobs and money, while the Herb Guild has created many of the niceties that give Pecan Springs its unique charm. Take the Joe Pye Memorial Knot Garden, for instance, created in honor of the veterans of The War to End All Wars. Or the Texas-shaped bed of red and blue salvias bordered by white-painted rocks, which was first planted on the west lawn of the Adams County courthouse back in ’31, the year Ma Ferguson began her second term as governor. Or the semi-annual Herb Bazaar and Plant Sale in the basement of the First Baptist Church, a slam-bang event that last year furnished the Laverne Scurry Conversation Lounge at the Colonial Nursing Home. The Chamber of Commerce calls the Herb Guild “a shining beacon of civic pride” and recently awarded it the Hilda Bonger Golden Trowel in appreciation of its many contributions to the health and well-being of Pecan Springs. Guild president Pansy Pride received loud applause when she said in her acceptance speech that the guild “stirs a pinch of savory, a potpourri of thymely delights, and a bushel of herbal joys into the melting pot of our fair city.”

To celebrate a century of dirty hands and green thumbs, the Herb Guild recently gathered a collection of herbal recipes, crafts, housekeeping tips, and gardening suggestions from its members. The collection is called Happy Thymes: A Calendula of Herbal Dillies, and it is available for only $14.95. Proceeds will go to repair the termite damage at the historic Myra Merryweather Herb Guild House at 217 Lady­bird Johnson Avenue. Pansy says that if you want to see the termites, call her and arrange for a tour. While you’re there, you can also admire the concrete armadillo recently donated to the guild by Homer Thompson. Everyone who sees it is amazed. Pansy reports that a committee has been named to investigate suitable locations for Homer’s generous gift. Homer is now at work on a tumbleweed made out of coat hangers.

According to Pansy, the collection is “a cornucopia of herbal delights, gourmet treats, and crafts you can’t live without.” Here are a few snippets from Happy Thymes.

Herbal Concoctions

If you enjoy the little herb garden behind the Mabel Pendleton Thorpe Free Library, thank Nelda Narendorf, head librarian. You can also be grateful to Nelda for a formula for fizzing bath salts that appears on page 46 of Happy Thymes. She claims that taking a bath in her salts is just as good as a trip to the hot springs at Mineral Wells. “It makes a pretty gift, too,” she says. “Last year at Christmas, the Herb Guild made up a washtub of it, poured it into jelly jars prettied up with ribbons and lace, and gave them to people at the nursing home.” The recipe makes about 4 cups. Use a few tablespoonfuls for each bath.

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