Saturday, November 28, 2009

Silk Purses

Some of the imponderables of life. Chinese legend attributes silk making to the wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor, 3000 something BC. Was she really the one who thought of soaking the cocoons of flightless butterflies, unraveling them, and twisting strands together to make threads to weave fabric? Cotton or wool or flax I can understand, much less time consuming. But silk making is the kind of process that leaves you scratching your head. Or take watermelon rind pickle. Did the lady of the house run out of cucumbers? I mean, pickles have been around before the Caesars. But taking something you usually toss and making it into food? That’s a concept. Here’s another, what guy in his right mind, chewed on the bark of a willow tree and discovered his headache went away? Hippocrates, 5th century BC, wrote about the bitter white powder from white willows that eased aches and fevers. Be honest now, which of you, when you have a wall-banger headache, go around chewing trees, even if you’re desperate? No, you’re in bed with the curtains drawn, and an ice pack on your head.

It makes you think. What mysteries are still out there to be discovered? Finding them is not a matter of status, wealth, power, or Mensa membership. It’s seeing everyday stuff in a slightly different way and poking around until they expose their secrets. Seeing the silk purses hidden in sow’s ears. So look, really look. Who knows what you’ll discover?

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