Bible Leaves


I wonder what it

This plant named costmary is also called Bible Leaf, following a legend that tells it was used as a bookmark for Bibles in old times. According to e-bay Guides:

“This whole plant emits a soft balsamic aroma. Since colonial days, the leaves marked the pages of bible verses; however it did not serve as just an innocent bookmark. Sleepy churchgoers would sniff and nibble on the edges and they would be revived during long, boring sermons. I wonder if it could be determined which parish had the most boring clergy by the amount of Costmary grown in the area? Since it also has insect repelling properties I also believe they used as book marks to keep bugs at bay.”

When I was a child we had a corner in our garden where costmary was a queen, a very greedy and expansive one. It was multiplying so easily, covering a greater surface every year. Among those bible leaves grew some lily-of-the-valley. Both of them had a powerful scent. My grandma used to make bouquets combining both and I gave them to my teachers. I liked more the fresh scent of costmary than that of small and delicate flowers.
In my language lily-of-the-valley has a name that means “little tears”, like this those little tears were captive inside a jungle of green aromatic leaves.
Without knowing that these green leaves are also edible and medicinal I tried once to use one as a dyer for my white chewing gum, I wanted to make it green. You can imagine I was a like many other children, trying to find always something fresh and amusing, inventing my own games and adventures. I don’t advice you to do the same thing! The taste was horribly bitter, maybe it was too old.
After 20 years my uncle sold the garden where I found so many treasures in my childhood. And I never found bible leaves again somewhere else. Except for the real Bible which stays right now on my reading table, the book I consider to be maybe the wisest or one of the wisest (among others). I don’t care what the atheists say –I like the fact that the Bible says the truth, like it is also said in many lay books of “fiction”. And I was always in love with the truth, it makes me feel more comfortable than a decent lie and I cannot change, this is me.

And I wrote two free form haiku about this plant, still magical in my memories:

childhood dreams –
lily-of-the-valley
among bible leaves

(the purity and innocence of childhood stays like a pressed flower inside a book)

Annunciation Day –
costmary leaves
in my diary

(A year ago I hardly found some pictures with my plant on the net and I hardly found its Romanian name then its Latin name Chrysanthemum balsamita or Tanacetum balsamita L. I found many contradictions about this plant on the net, it was like digging inside ruins. I know the net is a developing resource and sometimes I feel like trying to solve a puzzle when I search for something.)

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