My next blog will be entitled: Death to the Water Lettuce or Confession: I am a Water Lettuce Murderer. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post it but stay tuned. I plan to.
How quickly cold lovely words and phrases meant to warm turn from flame to ice,” said the woman to the writer, “when there is no fuel to them. As I understand fires and the makings of them, hot air will stoke a fire, making it rise, but only shortly. In the end, it is still only hot air.
It doesn’t matter whether the pet is a fish, a dog, a snail, a toad or a cat. For a few minutes several times a day we are busy taking our minds off of ourselves and our concerns and placing our minds and our efforts on something outside of ourselves for the benefit of something else.
Caring for our pets is like a mini meditation — a break from our ego centrism. All of our concerns, worries, issues, and have-to-dos are still occupying our mind but they are not the focus. The pet is. They appreciate that focus. We would too if we thought much about it.
We grow mint, along with other herbs, vegetables, and fruit, in our back yard. For the most part, we use the mint for cooking — picking, washing, chopping or snipping it with a pair of kitchen scissors and adding it to salads, fruits, yogurt, finger foods and other snacks.
I’ve thought at various points in time that we don’t use the mint enough. So, I started making mint tea (which is not really tea at all but rather an infusion).
I don’t make it or drink it all the time. Tea is not my normal “go to” drink. I am a coffee, espresso, double shot latte (no flavorings please) kind of person. If I knew I could get away with it, I’d drink it all the time. I can’t get away with it so I’ve tried finding alternatives to occasionally break the coffee streak. Since we have so much mint, it has become part of my coffee swap out plan.
Occasionally, I make a cup of tea or two for myself late at night as a way to wind down and get ready for bed. The tea varies. However, I have found that mint tea with a light honey like orange blossom or acacia is a pleasant alternative or addition to other teas that I might make for myself.
Historically, it has it’s health benefits and I find that when my sinuses are particularly troublesome at night, the mint tea helps. I suspect that it’s the steam from the hot tea that does the trick rather than the mint itself, but I’m not all that picky.
So, my current addition to the story of mint and how it has been a part of my life recently is that I now occasionally drink mint tea. In the past, however, I have mixed fresh mint with sea salt or sugar and jojoba or sweet almond oil and used it as an addition to my bath or as a scrub in the shower.
Mint has an interesting effect. In the mornings it can be an exhilarating scent that wakes you up. In the evenings it can be either the exhilarating scent that keeps you going for a little longer or the comforting scent that sends you off to sleep.
And, as I use the mint — starting out with a little walk to the garden to pick a few shafts of mint, I can think about all of the people before me who turned to this cool green little leaf. I find a bit of a break from what is going on today and the stresses that might lie there.
While there is plenty to say about the myth’s capricious powerful beings who act no better than flawed humans and the societal outlook regarding women in the Greek culture at the time, I will refrain. That type of analysis is open for another time and another blog. Instead, I will speak of mint and its appearance at other times.
We move forward in time, away from Greece and Rome, myths and romantic tales, towards the new world where we find more practical information about mint. In the new world, indigenous people had discovered mint on their own plot of land. As with many things, they made full use of it. Following are a few uses found by the indigenous tribes, although I am sure that there is more than I have listed here.
Indigenous people, particularly the Meskwaki, Delaware, Mohegan, Nanticoke and the Navajo, found a variety of mint called dotted horsemint. Horsemint could be found stretching from Vermont to Minnesota. It also had roots in the stretching to the south from Florida to Texas.
The Meskwaki and the Nanticoke used mint to treat colds. The Meskwaki also ground mint with other plants to form a powder which they took into their bodies through their nostrils. They used this powder to relieve headaches. They used the roots to treat and relieve stomach cramps. The Delaware and Mohegans used it in an infusion as a fever reducer. The Delaware also used horsemint as a problemed skin remedy. The Navajo recognized mint as having a pleasant smell and used it in their hogans.
The Commanche, Hopi and Tewa used a type of mint called frosted mint. Commanche medicine women used the leaves to make other drugs more pleasant to take. Hopi and Tewa treated rheumatism and problems with the ear with their frosted mint. Additionally, they used the flowers to flavor their food.
Mint is important mythologically, historically, and culturally. It has been used in the past as a flavoring for food, medicines, and snacks. It has been used medicinally to treat various maladies. It has been a perfume. But, all these uses are still occurring today.
You may never have previously thought of mint’s significance. Yet, I believe that if mint should disappear today never to return, you’d notice the lack of it.
References to mint can be found on Wikipedia. Dotted Horsemint information comes from: plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_mopu.pdf. References to frosted mint can be found at: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_poin3.pdf. Also, look for mint and references to indigenous people at the Milwaukee Public Library. Other references to mint and indigenous people can be found here: http://archive.suite101.com/article.cfm/wildflowers _north_america/114204. Mythological references can be found here: http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl/1998_3074114/mint-mythology-involves-greeks-romans.html, http://www.theoi.com/Nymphe/Naiades.html, http://www.theoi.com/Nymphe/NympheMinthe.html
In ancient Greece, there were gods and minor gods who had responsibility over earth and all those who dwelt upon it. Naiades were of the type nymph, a set of minor goddesses. They were responsible for the care of plants and animals of their domain. Some were also responsible for the waters or springs.
Naiades were thought to have powers. Some had prophetic powers. Others had powers of the occult. It has been said that some could give men the gift of poetry. They also have been attributed with such powers as healing the sick. They were worshiped because of these powers and because they were associated with water which gave life to vegetation that in turn gave life and blessings to people.
The waters or springs that the Naiades cared for were also thought to have powers. If one drank the water, one could be inspired.
Although they were minor gods, they were important and as such were invited to and attended the assemblies of the gods on Mount Olympus. There they mingled with the major gods. Some of the major gods took particular notice of the Naiad nymphs and sometimes the major gods and the minor gods would fall in love with each other.
Menthe was a Naiad nymph of Mount Minthe on Elis in Southern Greece. She caught the eye of the great god of the underworld; Hades, who was also known as Pluto. The two names: Hades and Pluto are representative of the two attitudinal aspects that are attributed him. Hades was thought of as being dark, evil, and violent. He had stolen Persephone for his wife and in the process, depending on who is telling the tale, raped her. Few temples and religious ceremonies were dedicated to his name.
However, when people spoke of Pluto, they spoke of him in positive terms, dedicated temples and religious ceremonies to him. They further spoke of him as being a loving husband to Persephone; the woman his name was invoked with during the religious ceremonies. Although he ruled the underworld, he is portrayed positively as the god of wealth since precious and expensive minerals came from the depths of the earth. He was also thought of as life-giving since seeds are planted in the ground and spring forth with food for the people.
Since it is the aspect of Hades that is negative, dark, and questionable, we have to assume that it was in this state that Hades came to fall in love with Menthe. And, it is in this state (as Hades), that Persephone must have found them together and reacted in a wildly jealous manner violently stomping on Menthe until her death.
In one version, Hades, could not bear to see the death of his beloved Menthe and, therefore, to save her life, he turned her into the fragrant plant that we know as mint. As this plant,she would always be pleasantly sweet (if in fragrance only) and he could keep her near him always without further offending his wife. Turning her into a mint plant also served to appease Persephone who imagined people trampling upon Menthe throughout eternity as justice for her treacherous actions with her husband.
This is how it is explained that mint came about. It is an interesting story to think of when you are doing something with mint. In following posts, I’m going to write more about mint and the role that it plays in my life.
I am taking a summer class at a local university. It’s a new school for me and it’s about 10 times larger than the last university I attended. I went there today to get my student id, a parking decal and to familiarize myself more with the drive to the school and navigating around the school. While I was at the school, I decided to pop into an office that is known for supporting the non-traditional student.
This office was located in the back of a building and if I had not been specifically looking for it would have been quite easy to miss. Yet, I was persistent and took the time to find it. When I did, I walked into a space that was actually small for such a big campus and for the number of people whom I know must be non-traditional students.
Non-traditional students, in this case, are generally and loosely defined as people who are not the typical, living in the dorm, first time away from home, only responsible for school students. They are students who tend to live off of campus and who have responsibilities (i.e. jobs and family) outside of school. And, they are, as I was informed by the Assistant Director, an ever growing population of students in colleges and universities.
The reception I received was warm and inviting. The Assistant Director was willing to spend time with me explaining all the services they offer (helping students transition into the university life setting, redirecting students with all sorts of difficulties to the proper resources such as school counselors, local assistance organizations, housing providers, connecting non-traditional students needs with the university, and connecting non-traditional students with other non-traditional students, etc.). This office turned out to be a hang out spot for non-traditional students to come between classes, for lunch, and after class to study and for a bit of moral support and encouragement.
I also found out while I was there that they were in the process of packing up and moving to a new building with, I hope although I don’t know if it will be the case, a larger space to serve and hopefully attract more students. Although I can’t say for sure, I would venture to guess that there are many students who don’t know that this service exists. I would venture to further guess that if they did know about it, they’d be there more often to take advantage of the services.
As I left, I was invited to come back and see the Assistant Director or just hang out any time the office was open. I was also invited to come and help with the unpacking after the move to the new office. I said I would be back and if they needed the help, I’d be glad to help with the unpacking. This service is important and not every university or college has such a program.
I spent more time than I had intended on campus. However, having stopped off at the office for Non-traditional students and talking with the Assistant Director, I can’t say that I regret it. In fact, it was a bit of my time spent well.
It’s Saturday morning and I am sitting outside at one of the tables in the backyard of my mother’s house with my mother and one of my sisters drinking our first cups of morning coffee. The birds are chirping and gurgling emanates from the pond’s fountain where the occasional fish comes up for a bite and goes back under the water with a swish of a tail fin and a plopping of the water.
As we sit, a light rain begins to fall adding to the ambiance. It makes the morning seem even more peaceful as it adds another layer of sound to our discussions. The rain doesn’t drive us inside. It is light and we are sitting at the table which is under a tree. Here, the rain doesn’t touch us.
We talk about dreams we had, if there were any, how we slept, and if we think it’s still too early and have decided to go back to bed. We also talk about what we are going to do for the day. Are they doing something I might like to join them in or am I doing something that one of them might like to do with me? Right now, it’s just talk. We have no plans of moving anytime soon.
I am with my Kindle, writing and trying to talk at the same time. It’s really impossible to do both. Bits of conversation float in but not everything that has been said is there as my attention moves from Kindle to conversation and back to the Kindle. My mother and sister become frustrated at having to repeat bits and pieces of what they’ve said. I become frustrated too at having to ask them to do this so I put my Kindle away and join fully in the conversation.