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On Thyme

The Magenta Roadside

Thyme from HelsinkiOnce I travelled with a dragon sculptor to a magical place called Wellington County.

As we drove through heavenly, refreshingly natural countryside, we came across a most powerfully uplifting sight: on our right a planting of two hundred feet flowered in thick, brilliant magenta blossoms; wild thyme massed prolifically upon the side strip.

Immediately opposite to the gorgeous sight of the thyme a field in full flower shone in exactly the same hue- wild peas about three to four feet high sported so many silken magenta and purple pea blossoms that the field looked like a larger version of our breathtaking thyme display. The feeling of that place was of overwhelming beauty.

Thymus serpyllum image thanks to

Paul and I (That's Paul Whitehead, a local sculptor who makes dragons, dragon pipes and welded miniature cars with all workable parts) were having a little excursion toward Ompah Lake.

I will never forget the magic of that area. As Paul smoked his dragon pipe, decorated with mystic curls in brass, a ripple appeared in the lake in front of us. The vast motion of the mysterious ripple went on for some six or seven hundred feet. No boat was particularly near it.

As I gazed across the clear freshwater lake, I witnessed the emergence of a grey head which looked like a seal, though it must have been bigger than an elephants' head, it was so far away. Hear tell our "dragons" and nessies" are actually giant otters. Hear tell.

Another thing, when I looked at Wellington County on the Ontario map, I found that it extended right over to Manitoba, or close to it.

It may be a magic area that has a sliding highway. Hear tell. How else could we Eastern Ontario people (Ottawa Valley) drive an hour and reach a county nearly a days drive away? It's raw living Magick.

I suppose this story doesn't tell you much about thyme. We are all so used to the herb, it is a surprise to find that thyme has so many medicinal uses.

I am not sure which of these is still in effect in Mrs Grieves' Herbal, written in the thirties, which cites some mediaeval writer on Thyme:

"Thyme, for the time it lasteth, yieldeth most and best honie and therefor in old time was accounted chief".

My Favourite Thyme

In my garden, I grow a different type of thyme - Orange Thyme. Its leaves are very pleasantly variegated and it has a bitter Seville Orange taste with Thyme to it.

Its flowers, rather than magenta, are a soft white.

It is meant to be used with salad dressing or in a fine cold soup, perhaps.

I am not too gifted in extracting oil for medicines from my garden Thyme. Just happy to grow varieties of herbs for the delight of the eye or taste buds.

Thymus Serpyllum, or the wild Thyme I saw by the roadside, was called "serpyllum" by the Romans because of its low, snake-like growth.

This variety is also called creeping Thyme and Mother of Thyme as well as Lemon Thyme. I have tasted it and it is not too lemony, whereas the Orange variety really tastes like orange.

The plant distinctively gives an oil called Oil of Serpolet which is used commercially in cosmetics.

It trails more than the garden Thyme and is hardier in the Winter, therefore it has reason to call itself "wild"!

There are other varieties of Thyme like Silver Thyme and Caraway Thyme, an experience I have never run into.

One day, I will ride to the land of the magenta thyme and dragon lore. There I will find again the wildness of life, and its truth, lost but a glowing reality while one is just there to patter over Wellingtons' basalt and white water falls and rapids, to wonder at the floral archives and their mysteries.

Top left, orange thyme. Bottom right: silver thyme.



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