Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Cloisters


Long before our heads were filled with the acronyms of modern computers and all their accessories, there was a technology to be acquired in the medieval herb garden. Centuries ago, cooks, healers, artists, would-be alchemists, magicians looked to the diversity of plants to aid them in the goals of a pleasurable aroma, a pleasing color, a healthier patient. J. and I lingered in the Cloisters' garden this beautiful afternoon, reading the names, sniffing the scents, avoiding the poisonous ones. Such wonderful names. Reminds me of the "language of flowers" ... the language of herbs. It made me yearn for that old kind of knowledge. To employ those herbs, if not in a potion, then at least in a poem. So evocative they are: Comfrey, Feverfew, St. John's Wort, Winter Savory, Ragged Robin, Hen-and-Chickens, Oleander, Apple Mint, Foxglove, Mandrake, Quince, Marjoram, Fennel, Marsh Mallow, Chamomile. The list goes on. Next time I'll have to bring a pen and paper.

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