Round Robin: Save or Savor?

| August/September 1993

Wolftown, Virginia—Bertha Reppert, of The Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, encourages us to be better than we are, to raise our expectations about ourselves, build­ing our self-confidence, egging us on. After reading a transcript of my talk on “Herbs: The Nurturing Connection”, she wrote with characteristic warmth and enthusiasm, “That’s your book!” Her excellent advice pumped me up: I got out and pored over my voluminous notes, and for the next week my mind whirred. What a temptation! What a challenge!

But as each beautiful morning dawned, full of promise and invitation to joy, I pondered. Do I revel in the sweet smells and participate in the quiet living energy outdoors, or do I closet myself with the computer in an attempt to record what I am, at that moment, missing? Do I save or savor? (That’s a line from an E. B. White essay to which a new friend in West Virginia introduced me.)

Last spring and summer, wet and cool conditions prevailed, giving us a lushness, an explosion of green. That explosion kept me on my knees pulling 3-foot lengths of quackgrass, crabgrass, dayflowers, smartweed, and wild strawberries away from the flowering plants. Even the horehound became a weed. I won an occasional battle but lost the war, and finally I threw in the towel.

The cool summer, although a welcome contrast to the 100-degree summers of recent years, slowed the growth of the heat-loving tomatoes, peppers, basils. The tarragons sulked about having wet feet, even though they were in a 10-inch-high raised bed. The thymes and oreganos flourished but never developed the characteristic intense flavors of hotter, dryer seasons. The feverfew was tolerant but didn’t get as tall as usual.

The lovage loved it.

The echinacea was gorgeous in flower, but many of the stems and blooms turned black, perhaps from moisture, overcrowding, or the excessive richness of the soil into which I transplanted them last fall. They seem to have recovered since I removed the blackened parts.

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