Breaking ‘The Mint’


By Marla Boone

Contributing columnist

At the 1971 commencement, Russia High School bestowed upon me the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow Award. This is just a quick illustration of how skewed life can be. It’s not quite as weird as it sounds. The award was predicated entirely upon the results of a written test. At the time I could barely boil water but I was just a darling at taking written tests. I once caught myself on fire cooking (and by cooking I mean heating up a can of soup) on an electric stove. I also once caught myself on fire sitting on top of a fire truck that was physically parked inside a fire station. My reputation was such that the crowd gathered for the graduation ceremony laughed out loud as I walked across the stage to receive the award … which I still have, if only for being a sure winner at “Truth or Dare.”

Fast forward 50 years. In 2021, I found a recipe that required fresh mint. By that time, I had the boiling water thing mastered and had moved on to more complex things. Still, the three most attractive things about the recipe was that it looked good, it looked refreshing, and most importantly, it looked easy. The logical thing would have been to go to the grocery and buy some fresh mint. So I went to a nursery, bought a mint plant, stuck it in the ground, sat back and waited for it to grow into dinner. When winter loomed, I moved all my herbs inside under the healthful glow of an LED grow light so any recipe I did try could be adorned with green flecks of freshly harvested, finely chopped, financially untenable herbs.

The mint in particular adapted well to being inside. Mint is notoriously difficult to kill. But not impossible.

I was lucky enough to spend January in Florida. It was chilly in Florida but one is careful about commenting on unpleasant Florida weather when one’s friends are in a geographic location that was looking at merely chilly in the rear view mirror. Because I was still in the throes of illogical-ness, I thought it would be a great idea to hire a neighbor girl to come tend my herbs. About now you are thinking, “She is an idiot. She is going to pay her neighbor $15 per visit to come and water $4 worth of mint, basil, and rosemary.” About now I am thinking, “They are right.” I did have the additional thought that in April or May, I was already going to have a fine crop of wonderfully fragrant herbs, but I believe the shrinks call that rationalization.

Around week three of January, the plant whisperer sent me a text, the gist of which was, “Your readers are right. You are an idiot. These herbs look terrible. They are either dead or dying. Including the allegedly unkillable mint.”

She was much kinder than that but absolutely correct. When I got home a week later, the herb garden had been replaced with the dead plant garden. The poor neighbor girl felt terrible but those plants knew they didn’t belong inside in the winter. The cult of misplaced plants took matters into their own leaves by committing mass suicide.

I cut it all back, gave it another shot of water, sat back and waited (again) for it to grow into dinner. Just to show irony wasn’t as dead as, say, the basil and rosemary, the mint staged an epic comeback. It is growing like crazy.

Now I need to find that recipe.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.

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