drum roll, please

Actually, I’d rather not.  It’s such a nice day, and I’m enjoying the birdsong and the chants of the cicadas.  Who knows how long that’ll last?  They seem to be singing their memento-mori music extra beautifully today.  Maybe they are inspired to show off now that every soul can feel summer is fleeting.  Let’s not cover nature’s sweet symphony up with noise, even to announce something as earth-shattering as the winners of my contest.

Who are… Judi and Fig.

Yes, after much consideration, I’ve decided on two winners. Judi thought perhaps the texture of sage leaves resembled brain matter, using the definition of sage as “smart.”  And Fig saw a tongue in the shape of the foliage, as in “sage advice.”  I could see where both of you were coming from, although that was not my own guess.

When I had my “ah-ha” moment in the garden, I was viewing the leaves very closely and rubbing them softly between my fingers.  (Sage is a tactile pleasure plant, for those of you who plan your gardens with all five senses in mind.)  Skin, I thought.  The drying leaves, like those shown above, even feel a bit like the slightly papery, yet meltingly soft texture human skin can assume with great age.  I looked more closely still and saw — wrinkles.

To me, a sage is someone who is wise and calm and has attained those qualities through long experience.  An elder, if you will.

(Keep in mind I was going from the English word “sage,” and not the Latin nomenclature of the plant, salvia.)

And when I went a little further in my research, to the word origin (because I am nuts and love words), I found this etymology:   the English “sage” comes from the Old French sage (11th century), which came from the Gallo-Roman sabius, itself from the Vulgar (i.e. common, everyday) Latin sapius, a corruption of the Latin sapere, meaning “have a taste, have good taste, be wise,” which originally came from the Proto-Indo-European base sap “to taste.”

So I think a “sage” might be someone who has tasted life.  Perhaps that’s not always an elder — but the wrinkles might be a clue.  I’m trying to be that kind of person myself, the only way I know how, by tasting this moment, savoring it, living it fully.  Maybe one day I’ll have tasted enough to develop deep and abiding wisdom.  Only one way to find out….

Of course, this could all be nonsense.  I’m just guessing.  And I appreciate all of you who played along at my guessing game with me.  I like to have company in my whimsy.

To the winners, congratulations to both of you!  I’ll be e-mailing you a list of choices right after I return from the Labor Day holiday.  Feel free to make requests up front for any seeds that are particularly dear to your heart.  We’ll work out all of the other details soon.  The bottom line is, you win!  You won!  Yay!

(Dried herbs and spices seems to be a bit of theme for me today.)

(Thanks to the Online Etymology Dictionary.  Douglas Harper, I’m grateful to you.  I’d been bothered by the lack of an online English etymological source, as well.  I’m so glad you decided to start one.)

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