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  • Mj Pettengill

Marya of the Wood: A Trace of Wild Mint


Dragonfly: Common Sanddragon   (Public Domain)
Dragonfly: Common Sanddragon (Public Domain)

I walked barefoot through the meadow, ignoring the threat of menacing ticks, longing for the nourishing dampness of the recent rain. Dark, wet earth squished between my toes, bringing back the satisfaction of my childhood. There were few worries back then. And though what we worried about may have seemed to loom like a monster, it was a time of innocence. There was still so much to learn.

First, I picked St John’s Wort, which had patiently waited for me during the rains. I moved onto the yarrow, mullein flowers, self-heal, and other random herbs that called out to me. Surprised at the early arrival, I picked the first high-bush blueberries of the season, only eating two or three… okay, four. I went on to gather lambs quarters (tastes better than spinach) and purslane for my salad.

Before returning to the house, I looked for a trace of the wild mint that, during recent construction, had escaped. I reminisced about when it was abundant in the field, taking a moment to linger in my loss. However, the melancholy vanished, and I laughed when I spotted one small plant amidst countless other greens. I bent down and rubbed the leaf between my fingers, inhaling the familiar scent.

Of course, my thoughts raced about in my head. Should I dig it up and put it in with the socialized mints? The ones intentionally planted? Or should I leave it in hopes that it will spread, filling the field once again? I decided to leave it and go to a nearby, small rock pile to find a marker. When I returned to the place, I couldn’t find the precious mint anywhere. I scanned the area over and over again, cursing myself for not being more careful—more aware.

I didn’t want to give up, but this was a clear example of looking for a needle in a haystack. Pushing the regret aside, I remembered to look for the lesson. It was about haste. I needed to slow down.

Just as I was about to surrender, a dragonfly zoomed past me, landing a few feet away. Because of their constant presence and ability to keep the bug population down, I make it a point to thank them. They are also very fascinating to look at. I said my usual thank you and stopped. There beside it was the small mint that I had been frantically seeking.

I stood back and noted where the tiny mint was located within the riotous, weed-populated area. (Remember, weeds are gifts to me.) There is no doubt in my mind that the dragonfly was an ally, aiding me in my search. I do not believe in coincidences and am grateful for miracles, especially the small, unexpected ones.

I returned to the pile of rocks and selected marbled quartz to mark where the surviving, wild mint grew. When I returned, the dragonfly was still perched on the sweet clover. Again, I thanked it, and it flew away.