Last night I decided to take an herbal bath. Sounds deliciously relaxing, doesn’t it? Oh, think again, my friends.
A few days ago I was wandering aimlessly around Exeter and I happened to notice a fair in the Cathedral Green. Various sustainable, eco-friendly, organic, fairtrade products were on sale. An herbalist’s stall was selling something called “herbal face steam mix.” I took a sniff and thought, this would make a lovely bath soak.
Anyone who thinks having a bath in herbs is going to be a a good time seriously lacks foresight. Having now made the same mistake myself I fell fully qualified to give advice on this issue.
Bathing is generally a pleasant activity, and so the actual bath itself was quite nice. (Though I realized I’d have to use about a bushel of the herbal preparation for it to really make a noticeable scent difference, instead of just a handful.) It was only once I was about ready to get out of my nice steamy herbal preparation that I realized I wouldn’t be able to get the herbs out of the water when I was done.
I can hear you thinking, but surely they’ll just drain away. No, no indeed.
Have you ever had to deal with a drain that has been completely backed up by hair? Ever had to try hooking wads of tangled gooky matted-up hair out of the pipe? No matter how lovely those herbs and spices smell while you’re in the bath, in a few days they’ll just be a smushy mass of rotting vegetative matter lurking under your tub.
Having had this realization, you will find yourself dripping wet trying to scoop flower petals and leaves out of the bathwater while it drained. If you’ve never shared this experience, let me tell you that wet vegetation is quite sticky. You may attempt shaking it off your hands into the trash bin, which, let me caution you now, will just result in it flying all over the bathroom floor that you just swept clean the day before.
When the water finally empties completely from the tub and you’ve hooked out all the flowers that caught in the drain with a crooked finger, you will look up and notice that like a receding tide the bathwater has left a residue of herbs speckled about the tub which now have to be rinsed out with the shower head. Finally all that is cleaned up but some of it has managed to escape down the drain where it contributes to the overall slowing of the drainage process which is what you wanted to forestall in the first place by getting the herbs out of the water.
Muttering to yourself, you stomp off to the bedroom, leaving a small pleasantly-scented trail of plant parts as gravity begins to do its work and set free the herbs which got stuck to you when you emerged, venus-like, from the tides. Little yellow petals will follow you around for the next day; you’ll be picking rosemary twigs out of your hair for hours. If, like me, you go straight to bed, you will wake up to the fragrant crunching of your pillow in the night.
The next morning, returning to the scene of the crime, you note resignedly that you didn’t do quite as good a cleanup job as you thought the night before, for every swipe you made in an effort to remove those unruly herbs only resulted in depositing more in their wake.
So next time you want to relax, go with some epsom salts.