Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sage Searching, Sage Advice


Last Thursday I copied Rory C. Keel’s article, “Word Count.” Why? He presented information fiction writers need, and did it in a straightforward manner.  

Tonight Google proudly announced over 31,000,000 results for my search on “sage plant.” I’ll bet half of those are ad sites. Or worse—pages of so-called facts backed up with anecdotal reporting instead of hard evidence.

Even more frustrating to me is suffering through the jargon of studies conducted by reputable labs, only to learn important details are missing.

For example a study a decade ago touted sage for increasing memory and concentration. What kind of sage do I need to ingest to turn back the clock on my once-good memory? I could fill an acreage with sage, and never plant the same type twice.

Today in searching for the United States army’s study on sage as a brain booster, I failed. I wanted to know which, if either of the two sage plants in my garden would produce the memory miracle. And I had more questions. What part of the plant do I use—leaves, roots, flowers, stems—what? Then what? Do I make an infusion and drink it instead of my afternoon tea? And what plant parts would go into the infusion? Maybe I need to add its leaves to salads, or garnish plates with its blossoms. I do know the powder I season our Christmas turkey’s stuffing with affects nothing in my head except taste buds. 

If you believe Internet posts though, a specific type of sage can buzz your brain. According to the Urban Dictionary, a type of salvia (sage) is legally available in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It’s a hallucinogenic, and evidently instructions on how to use it come with the plant. My brain says the badly written article is a hoax. How could anyone who writes so pathetically understand “how to use it” written instructions?

For about $10.00 at you can purchase a plant called white sage that the USDA endorsed for its medicinal qualities.  Surely instructions somewhere advise an eczema sufferer how to relieve their rash with it. Maybe the information on how to use the herb for treatment of acne at would work. That site also suggests a link between sage oil and word retention. But it sounds like ingesting sage oil could be worse than smoking the plant's leaves.

Undoubtedly writers scramble for words at times. Once again, my research did not produce facts I’d hoped to find. Memory boosting aside, all was not lost. The Growers Exchange advertises a pineapple sage. “Pineapple Sage makes a wonderfully light sweet ingredient. The flowers look like Honeysuckle and are lovely in salads and fresh fruit dishes.” Another site suggested the blossoms add a novel culinary touch when frozen in ice cubes.

Now that's a tidbit of information worth filing, especially for writers. If you can spare the words, add interest to a character who grows pineapple sage for the sole purpose of impressing her guests with water or lemonade enhanced with its flowers. 

H-m-m -- Rory C. Keel gave you a list of standard word counts to guide you. Here's more sage advice. Roam the Internet's rabbit trails to discover unusual bits and pieces that enliven your prose and make your words count.

(c) 2013, Bernice W. Simpson 

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