Usually, I’m baffled by other people’s stupidity.
This time, it’s my own.
I don’t fear many things in life, and not all the things I fear are worth being afraid of. However, I have an innate scepticism towards apiaceae in general and water hemlock in particular.
The trouble is to tell the different species apart. The worst is that a mistake might kill you. I’m not a great philosopher, and I would prefer not to die by hemlock, thank you.
Anyway, I have been trying to be a righ little nosey botanist these past few weeks. I’ve discovered quite a few plants in the overgrown parts of my garden, and on my way home from work. This lead me to wanting to tell those apiaceas apart. After all, it might come in handy. So on my way home from work, I picked at least five different specimens to look at when I came home. And I did. A bit with gloves, a bit without.
As I’ve mentioned, water hemlock is one of my greatest fears. The newspapers were full of warnings when I grew up, and I’ve been terrified of eating something I accidently thought was something edible, just to discover I was beyond help a couple of hours later. So I never ate plants I didn’t know (after mum made three-year-old me purge the laburnum I was happily gnawing on. )
And late last night I put my finger in my mouth and started to clean the nail with my teeth. It had an unusual taste, and I spat it out immediately. The next three hours I spent spitting and gurgling (not swallowing once, mind you), waking my brother to keep an eye on me in case I started to convulse (poor fellow!) And in general work myself up to a mild panic.
Of course nothing happened. I went through the samples once more, and I’m positive there was no water hemlock there. Or hemlock.
Being such a whimp, and a clumsy and careless one at that, I really should keep my hands off plants I don’t know. At least unless I wear gloves at all times while handling them. And I should keep my fingers out of my mouth. Gran always told me my hands should stay out of my face. Maybe she was right. Not because of pimples, but because maybe I can’t be trusted with my own health.