An Elizabethan Thyme Piece

March 30th, 2010

I had the pleasure of collaborating with Janice of Postcards from Wildwood this month. Janice wrote the delightful story below and I created the illustration to go along with it. It fit so beautifully with the story theme, so I'm glad we were able to do it before March came to a close. Thank you, Janice for this fun experience! Enjoy the story everyone!

An Elizabethan Thyme Piece by Janice Heppenstall

Come, come!  Over here in the bright sunshine!  No, do not fear the bees.  They are busy about their work, collecting pollen that will become one of the most prized of all honeys.  Oh, I see you stop to admire my more extrovert companions, the delicious perfume of the purple-flowered lavender and the abundant pink and white striped blossoms of the Rosa Mundi. Of course they attract your attention; and I live constantly in their shade.  My short, woody stalks and small oval leaves – even my summer cloak of tiny, lilac flowers – cannot compete in appearance.  Yet – stay awhile: I am more than I seem.
Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Thymus Vulgaris; but since we are to be friends you may call me Common Thyme.  ‘Common’, yes.  I have never entirely understood that.  My Latin family name Thymus proceeds from the Greek thymon, meaning ‘courage’; and for those fine people nothing could have been less common than the meaning they attributed to my ancestors.  The very expression ‘to smell of thyme’ indicated high praise for a person’s stylish and elegant demeanour. 
Yes, indeed: I have a Greek root!  I sometimes amuse myself wondering that all the thyme plants in the world must have roots reaching all the way back to Delphi.  This would be bad news indeed for gardeners – except of course for those living and tending their plots alongside the great Oracle.  And surely, then, thyme would have the reputation of being a dreadful pest to have in the garden – the mother of all bindweeds!  And of course this is not the case.
Do you see the stone plinth beside me, and sitting atop the plinth a brass sundial? – Another joke, dreamed up by one, now long gone, who used to tend this garden: Thyme flies.
Yet, suppose thyme really could fly, as does our assonant twin in times of merriment – where would we take you on our fragrant wings?  Back to the sun-baked Aegean hillsides of our youth?  Perhaps.  But it’s also true that Thyme is a great healer, and with this in mind I can think of no better spot than right here in the courtyard of this rambling house where I first put down roots during the reign of Good Queen Bess.  It has not always been so peaceful, mind you.  Such things I have witnessed!  No less than 14 proposals of marriage (11 of them accepted); whispered plots against the Virgin Queen; first steps; and indeed, last ones.  You see over by the Madonna lily?  A dagger through the heart, it was.  I never did trust those ostentatious white blooms...
But all that is in the past.  Today, tranquillity reigns amongst these dependable red-brick walls.  Here, at any rate, Thyme has stood still.  Here, thanks to my good companion marjoram and myself, all the sorrows and ills of the past are cleansed.  And to me, right here, you too have been drawn so as to benefit from my healing energy.
Here, take this sprig.  Yes, break it off!  It will bring you courage and energy.  Place it beneath your pillow this evening and you will sleep the delicious restful sleep of the angels.  But for now, just rest awhile.  Feel your body become as one with the Earth, and breathe in deeply the scents, the beauty and the stillness that is your gift from this most delightful present.

7 Responses

You two are amazing! I love love love this! The story and illustration merge into one gorgeous delightful image. I also love the synchronicity.

Leah, how fun. I love the layers of this illustration. Beautiful.

This story is absolutely wonderful and delightful! the image and words go so well together it is as if they were from one hand.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Leah Piken Kolidas. Leah Piken Kolidas said: To finish off the month of Stories, I collaborated w/ a friend to illustrate her story about Thyme: #ced2010 [...]

What a beautiful story. I felt more peaceful as I was reading it. Absolutely lovely, & I like the idea of the thyme talking to us. And the illustration – perfect.

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented, and also how much I enjoyed collaborating with you on this, Leah. Your illustration is delightful!

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

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