My first day of second grade a boy named Matt called me WitchiePoo. I retaliated with, "Oh yeah? Well, you're a warlock!" The teacher pulled me aside immediately.
"Do you know what that means?" I registered her troubled expression, but at that age, it pleased me to show what I knew, so I happily answered, "A warlock is a boy witch."
The teacher looked taken aback. (I would see that look often as my education progressed.) "Well, yes," she said. "That's correct. But it's not a nice thing to call someone."
"It isn't," I asked? The teacher looked taken aback again and chivied me to my seat.
Summer months, when I was allowed to stay up later than usual, I would collect clover under a full moon. And rose thorns, rolls of crape myrtle bark -- I kept them in repurposed baby food jars, stored in the back corner of my bedroom closet. Should I ever come across a book of spells, surely these ingredients would be key.
I read every story I could find about witches, the good, the bad and the ugly ones with warts on their nose, preparing to roast children. The active-enzyme lemon-freshened junior high school witch by Edmund Wallace Hildick became a blueprint for my own transformation into someone with magical powers, but my lack of progress frustrated me. I turned to Frazier's the Golden Bough, referenced often as a source for magical knowledge, but as a How-To guide, it failed to deliver.
I came late to the Harry Potter party. I turned 32 the year the first book was published, and I wasn't exactly the target market. A young lady who worked for me insisted that I read Sorcerer's Stone and lent me her copy. She herself was anxiously awaiting the release of Prisoner of Azkaban. I was hooked immediately. Here at last I had found my instructional manual. I, along with Harry, Ron and Hermione, would study magic at Hogwarts.
I still chafe at the thought that we didn't get to attend our seventh year. I wanted to sit the N.E.W.T.s. I did well on my O.W.L.S., receiving nine pass grades out of the 12 exams. (I got a dreadful on the Care of Magical Creatures exam, which really irked me as I am staff for two kneazles pretending to be house cats.) But even without the seven full years of magical education, Ms. Rowling's books have succeeded where all others failed. I am finally the witch I always wanted to be.
Before you start stoking the bonfire, allow me to explain. I'm not a wand waver (well I am, and people duck when I do it, but nothing EVER happens). I'm an ordinary mage, a practicer of every day magic. I finally own a book of spells -- you'd call it a recipe file -- they're love potions, all. As in: You will love me if I cook this for you. The potions are transformative in other ways as well. My cookies, for example, have changed the shape of more than one waistline.
I'm best in Herbology. The inherent magic of a seed has always enthralled me. The importance of flora, of growing things, cannot be underestimated. With a seed, I can bring forth food, shelter, beauty, medicine, poison. With a few whispered words, a brew to enhance growth, and the right attention to wind and water, sunlight and moonlight, I can command a plant to emerge and flourish. Fifty days ago I shared my thoughts on the potential that I see in a seedling. Since then, I have muttered my spells of growth and encouragement, I've applied the brew as prescribed. Wind, water and sunlight complete the spell, and like magic...
|Bare dirt has become a garden.|
|A few shoots of lemongrass (inset) have become a stand.|
|The Thai pepper seedling will soon be large enough to flower.|
|The little tomato that began at the top of the plant is now nearly ripe at the bottom.|
|Not one but two tomato seedlings sprouted along side the serrano pepper plants I bought from the local greenhouse. I don't know what variety they are, but I look forward to finding out.|