With surgical precision I pried this promising seedling up from the dry-laid bricks some months ago. I didn’t recognize its hirsute, corrugated leaf, so it had to be special, a salvia or verbascum possibly. By this time, all the volunteer seedlings from the garden are familiar in their early stages, and I know what to curtail and what to encourage. Or do I? Turns out what I carefully nurtured these past six months is simple, elemental borage, Borago officinalis, one of the ancient uber herbs. (Pliny said it “maketh a man merry and joyfull.”) Must have blown in or been dropped by a bird. I’ve never grown it before. Planting it in front of a golden Arundo donax was a happy accident. And I can vouch for Pliny, I do indeed feel a bit merrier upon seeing it first light this morning.
I can’t think of a better word than “obtainium” for this wealth of plants an established garden constantly offers up since reading The New York Times 3/16/12, “Building a Better Apocalypse”:
“On Chris Hackettâ€™s personal periodic table, the worldâ€™s most interesting, and abundant, substance is an element he calls obtainium. Things classified as obtainium might include the discarded teapot that he once turned into a propane burner…”
In forming his Madagascar Insitute of anarchic Rube Goldbergists, Mr. Hackett was deeply inspired by equal parts Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (a favorite among the men in this house) and Burning Man. I like to believe that those on familiar terms with organic obtainium will be as useful post-apocalypse as those able to build jet engines from teapots. But obviously I need to venture out of my own garden occasionally to sharpen ID skills of garden-variety obtainium.