When I was twelve-ish, there was an old woman who rented an apartment from my grandmother. No love lost between the two of them! They did not speak, did not make eye contact. But Miss Brehm, a maiden lady, sat on her porch every afternoon in the summer, watching everything that went on, and I often sat with her for a little while. She smelled good to me in that old lady way . . . Ivory soap and denture cleaner and Spic and Span detergent and whatever else it is that made old ladies smell the way they used to. She had a dog, a husky named Silver, whom she'd trained, she said, to look both ways before he crossed the narrow paved road to do the necessary. He always did look both ways, whether or not it was taught or just good dog reasoning. I humored her, smiled. "He's smart!" I'd say. When he died I gave her a sympathy card.
Photo from Toxic Plants for Horses
A year or two earlier I had grown a wart on my knee, just below my kneecap. Miss Brehm told me to break off milkweed leaves and dab the milk on the wart. "Keep doing that every day," she said, "And that wart will disappear."
I thought she was probably crazy but I hated that wart, and there were certainly enough milkweed plants from which to take leaves, so I tried it. And by the end of the summer the wart had shrunk and shrunk and disappeared.
This morning I was up at 5:00. By 6:00 I was out the door for a leisurely period of movement. I'm not sure what I do even qualifies as "a walk." I just go outside and move my legs back and forth until, eventually, I find myself back at the door. As I came down the driveway toward the house, I noticed the milkweed plants, all new and fresh and plump, and remembered Miss Brehm. I thought of my itchy hands. I broke off a leaf of milkweed and dabbed the milk on the scabs on my right hand, leaving the left as the control hand. Who knows?
Can't hurt, can it, after all?
And not for nothin', but my right hand doesn't itch right now and the left does.