About that toxic fruit

When I took the NJDEP Basic Pesticide Applicator Training Class, we were told the story of a pesticide applicator who left an unmarked bottle of pesticide at a client's home. That bottle was a juice bottle, a bottle similar to the bottles the client's child drank from. The pesticide was colorless and odorless. The contents of the bottle appeared to be water and were found and put in the refrigerator. The child drank from the bottle and...

Regardless of the story's truth, I was sufficiently frightened and my memory banks were seared. Having since smelled Garlon 4, Garlon 3A, Pathfinder, Accord, RoundUp, and CideKick, I could not imagine  any herbicide not being absolutely malodorous. Bottom line: New Jersey has a regulation that says food containers cannot be used to store pesticides and all pesticides must be labelled. Don't mess up and kill a client's kid.

My mother babysits my son while I work. One of those days I work from home, so we are able to catch up at lunchtime. She's very used to all manner of gross and odd items scattered through my home. 

"So, what's that?" she asks, pointing to a moldy simmer pot of balsam fir needles in tannic waters. "I was going to wash that out last week, and I thought, 'I better not.'" 

"Yeah," I sigh. It looked pretty bad. "Oh, I'm dying some yarn. I wanted to mention that. It's on the stove."

"I was going to ask you about that toxic fruit." 

Privet fruit simmered with a skein of yarn and left to sit for 3 days.

I unlid the cast iron kettle, and pull a blue skein of yarn out. "It's privet berries. Don't know if it will be blue when I rinse it."

I'm embarrassed about what a wreck my house usually is, but my mother is very gracious and hardly criticizes though her own home is pristine even when it is deemed "filthy."

That particular day she was going to to drive to Philadelphia to pick up my brother. My son was napping. "Don't worry about the dishes, just head out." 

"You always leave me a mountain of dishes," she says looking at the sink. 

"Don't worry about it. I'm going to get back to work." I slip back into my home office - a folding table in the back room - and hear my mother turn on the faucet. Moments later, it seems, I hear the front door open and her footsteps on the porch.

I wave goodbye, and look at the sink. Dishes are done, except the toxic ones.