Down to Earth

A Surprising Audience for Herbs

| October/November 2006

Recently, a friend of mine who is a psychologist at a treatment facility for juveniles asked me to speak about being a writer for the facility’s career day. The facility accepts 6- to 17-year-old kids who have been abused, most often sexually.

I went prepared to present some examples of my books; thoughts on how one’s life choices matter; ideas on how when you are young, you can do or be anything you choose if you only have the information to help you choose. I also took along a few herb clippings from my garden, tucked away at the bottom of my box, just in case I fell flat with everything else.

My first group included nine boys, ranging from 13 to 16. They had heard all of the life choice stories before, having been in counseling for many months. One boy folded himself up in his chair with his knees drawn up to his chin, pulled his T-shirt over his head and proceeded to doze off. Another put his head down on his desk; another was drawing.

There were two boys, about 14, sitting with their chins on the desk where I was speaking. When I took a breath’s pause from a story I was telling, one of them reached into my little box and pointed at the rosemary sprig and said, “So why did you bring rosemary?”

Before I could answer, he said, “My grandma grows rosemary. We use it to cook with. Can I touch it? I like the smell.”

I handed him the rosemary and he inhaled the fragrance. “Taste it,” I said. “You probably will remember what it tastes like.”

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