Editor's note: This column originally was published Nov. 5, 2000.
The ink was cleanly processed. The writing table was cleared. A few of my proposed notes were written. Then, from some unusual jar of something, over went the opened bottle of ink. Maybe a door was slammed. Maybe a bird flew into a cleaned widow. After 64 years maybe the house is still settling. Could a piece of space junk have fallen? Anyway the small purple flood spread over the table top. I picked up the bottle immediately, thus saving about a tablespoon of the ink. The last note I was writing got splattered as well as the stationery I was using. Pretty color, though.
I reached for the paper towels I had on hand for such an emergency, which I never thought I'd have. All the time I was admiring the beautiful color of the fluid as it soaked into the papers. I went to the kitchen to get a sponge but here's where it gets worse. As I rubbed the sponge across a seam where a table leaf could be inserted, I felt a splatter on my white canvas shoes. Quickly I jerked some more paper towels to lay on the floor and across the table top hemorrhaging, but, unfortunately, a large magenta spot was forming on the light green carpet. It was a mistake to go after that with the sponge that was already holding purple ink.
Maybe I should stop here and sum it all up by saying I was having a bad ink day. But let me go on. After assessing that the seam where an extra leaf could be inserted was completely devoid off my prized purple project, I set out in earnest to clean the carpet lest I have a permanent purple spot.
A clean sponge was found and more ink was soaked up. However, by pressing or rubbing the sponge I was only pushing the ink farther down and spreading it. I had some foamy carpet cleaner and covered the place generously, making lovely purple suds and lavender hands. The directions said, " Let dry and vacuum." I did that. The directions further said, as many directions do, "If results are unsatisfactory, repeat." I did that again and again before dark and I grew too tired to do anything further. A generous amount of foam was left on the spot overnight. After a final vacuuming, I was almost satisfied.
I told a friend I might have to resort to a commercial cleaner. She replied, "Oh, that's just another line in the wrinkles of your well-lived-in house." So far, I'm getting along with that.
In spite of this bump in my orderly plans, I still appreciate the pokeweed as it is sometimes called. I make use of it at both the beginning and the end of its life. In the beginning it shoots up something like an asparagus plant. When 6 or 7 inches high it is used in salads or in a mess of greens. In the end of its life I make the ink. It is not complimentary to nature to not use its gifts. During the in-between-time, I let it alone, for it is said to be poisonous, that is, the leaves and the roots. Poisonous? Medicines are made from them to treat skin and blood disease. Amongst other medicines, I take a little purple pill! Can the pharmacologists, too, not get the purple out?
Jean Bell Mosley is an author and longtime resident of Cape Girardeau.