Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Herbs, and the nurturing of little girls

There are many ways to raise a child and teach a little person about the world around them, the animals, plants and various creatures that call it home,

This spring (assuming it comes if the cold weather ever retreats for good) brings the opportunity to grow something good for the table: fresh herbs. They season our food, they make us feel better. In times of plenty, their dried leaves and stems and seeds imbue our homes with the natural perfume that has enveloped kitchens since antiquity.

An herb garden can be any size, from a window box by the kitchen to a plot in the back yard. In our yard, my daughter has staked her claim to what was once a rose bed, before I realized that hybrid tea roses just don't like Alabama's summers and humidity. She's out there every chance she can find, digging up weeds, rummaging through black soil and trying to decide what will go where.

She's made her list, copied it a few times. Some of the herbs she's never eaten, but she knows she wants to grow them. She's in the habit of asking to sniff every herb or spice jar I take from the cabinet. She takes a sniff, makes a mark.

Now all I have to do is break the news that we can't grow nutmeg here.