Sage may be last resort for improving summer

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 2, 2004

[7/18/2004] I planted sage in a raised bed because I like the way it tastes in dressing.

I built a wild little flower and herb bed where I planted a bunch of things that I’d never grown before. I didn’t have much hope for the zinnias or the dahlias but they have grown beautifully despite rain, heat and neglect.

Unfortunately, the rosemary was an early casualty so I resort to pinching sprigs from overgrown bushes in neighbors’ yards. The marjoram went down not long after. The pennyroyal is a ground cover and the German chamomile is struggling along. Even the wormwood shows signs of survival.

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I had almost forgotten the sage until I was weeding a few weeks ago. It’s gotten tangled underneath the dahlias but it’s thriving. I’ve been thinking about the sage since this summer has been marked by a string of household crises.

Memorial Day weekend I found out my dog had sarcoptic mange.

After four weeks and about $250, the dog had recovered nicely from the mange. I wasn’t even itching that much anymore myself July 4 weekend when I found out about the two gaping holes in the street in front of my house that had developed after the rainy spell.

The City had long patched over the holes by the time I got home the other night to find evidence that there had been a cat-dog fight. The 55-pound canine naturally got the better of the 8-pound feline. He had missing hair, raw and oozing skin, and, most frightening of all, limping. It’s difficult to make consoling gestures to one animal while flailing at another with a rolled-up newspaper, but I managed.

The vet’s $150 solution for the hair and skin was to shave the cat’s head and neck, and he gave him a shot to clear up the red spots. But the limping appears to be resulting from an underlying condition early arthritis. Need a recap? Mange, caving street, a bully dog, and now, a bald, arthritic cat who is barely a year old. And Labor Day’s more than a month away.

“Glad to hear you still have such good luck,” wrote my friend after I told him about my latest minidrama. He burned sage to bless my house the weekend I moved in it. He used the dried kind you buy tied up in strings for way too much cash at funky stores that smell like incense. Sage is supposed to protect from bad luck. It’s obviously worn off.

“I’m growing sage,” I told him.

“I think you need to pluck some of that stuff, set fire to it and smoke your house. Remember, don’t snort it and don’t burn down the house.”

The image of my house in flames seemed too real given my luck this summer, so I decided on a compromise. I will pick the sage and bring it indoors. I’ll hang it. That probably works for luck, too. If not, it should be just dry enough for the Thanksgiving dressing.

Sonya Kimbrell is features editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail her at