Patsy Porco

On Beauty, Slugs, and Homeopathy

In Humor on May 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Today, while cutting flowers in my garden, I found a pale green inchworm on a peony and I was thrilled. Later in the day, a rabbit ran across my lawn and again I was delighted. If I had seen a slug on the peony and a rat on my lawn, however, my reactions would have been very different. I wonder if there’s a parallel universe where slugs and rats are preferable to inchworms and rabbits?

I often think about why some animals are preferred to others—why we recoil from some, eat others, and keep certain ones as pets. I have also pondered beauty. We’ve all heard that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I’ve witnessed this many times. One person will think a celebrity is beautiful while another will disagree. But neither of those people would call the celebrity ugly; well, they might, to make a point, but they wouldn’t truly mean it. They would actually mean that the celebrity doesn’t meet their criteria for beauty. What one person perceives as human beauty does not always mesh with the opinion of others. It might be due to one preferring blondes to brunettes, or brunettes to redheads. It could be related to what a person was raised to believe was beautiful. So why doesn’t anyone prefer a slug to an inchworm? Or a rat to a rabbit?

Speaking of nature, the other day, or maybe a few weeks ago, when I was driving to who-knows-where, I heard a radio ad for a homeopathic natural supplement that improves one’s short-term memory within 60 minutes. I wish I recalled the name of it, but I hadn’t taken the supplement, so just knowing about it did me no good. The ad got me thinking, though. In the recent past, whenever I heard the word, “homeopathic,” I would think of natural remedies. However, I looked the word up not long ago and learned that homeopathic remedies, if given to a healthy person, would cause symptoms of the disease that sick people are trying to get rid of. My brain shorted out when I read that. If people knew what homeopathic meant, I doubt they’d brag to their friends that they only used homeopathic drugs. I would venture to say that many people think homeopathic remedies are natural remedies. And anything natural is good, right?

Socrates might disagree with you. He was sentenced to commit suicide by drinking hemlock, a poisonous plant. There are plenty of poisonous plants found in nature. I would think that the perfect murder would involve giving someone a freshly brewed cup of hemlock that one grew in one’s garden alongside tea leaves. Persuading a jury that you mixed up the plants would be a cinch. This makes me wonder why our society looks on natural remedies with such a favorable eye. The medical profession is aware that certain herbs and supplements can be detrimental if taken willy-nilly or in tandem with prescribed medicines. Even grapefruit juice can interfere with certain medicines, and what’s more natural than grapefruit?

Today, I was filling pots with soil and my friend called. When I told her I was gardening, she asked me if I had lost my mind since I had already contracted ivy poisoning twice this year and it was only May. The outbreaks were severe and required heavy doses of Prednisone. I reassured her that my gardening endeavors today were pot-related. She thought that it was interesting that I was growing marijuana and asked me to tell her where the plants were located.

While this exchange was in jest—take note FBI— it also made me think about the beneficial plants in nature. Just as with beauty, opinion varies. I love string beans, but my husband doesn’t. My inlaws salivate over broccoli rabe while I would use it as a poison, in place of hemlock. Certain fruits and vegetables are universally appreciated like apples, bananas, oranges, lemons, tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes. Others, like lychee, prickly pears, plantains, rhubarb, beets, rutabagas, turnips, and spinach are as much disliked as liked. The same goes for marijuana. Some don’t like it and some do—especially when they’re stoned. What’s not to like when one is stoned? Hell, even broccoli rabe is appealing. (Not that I would know this from experience, law-enforcement agents.)

So, we’re back where we started: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, except when it comes to slugs and rats. Although, I’m sure some will disagree with that statement. To them I say, “How’s the weather in your parallel universe?”

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  1. Hmmmm. Food for thought…

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