Some years back my wife and I were at some friend's house for dinner. They're gourmet cooks, priding themselves on ferreting out exotic ingredients and esoteric spices. After dinner, like sexists everywhere, the men retired to the lounge while the women gossiped and cleaned up the kitchen.
"Quite a remarkable meal, Richard," I complimented our host.
"Really," he said, "the credit goes to my new discovery, Himalayan Dark Pink salt."
"Pink salt?" I replied, "What will they think of next?"
"It's very rare, hand-mined in the shadow of Mount Uttarakhand, inside the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. It's a 250 million year old Jurassic Era sea salt, well-known for its healing properties for those in need of its beneficial amounts of 84 trace elements and iron. It comes naturally in shades of pink to deep red and has been used for centuries to stimulate circulation, lower blood pressure and remove heavy metals from the body. I really swear by it. Let me give you some."
"I order it in 10-pound blocks. I'll just take this hammer and break you off a piece."
"No really, that's not . . . " WHACK, WHACK!
"Here you go. Just break it into smaller pieces and put it through a grinder. You won't believe the difference."
So I got this big rock of pink salt that I tossed on the workbench as soon as I got home. It fit right in, along with all the other things that have sat there since the Jurassic Era.
Fast forward another era or two.
"Have you been watering the lemon tree?" my wife asked out of the blue.
"Why no, I haven't," I said.
"Well stop it anyway; all the leaves are falling off."
"Spray it with something," I said, revealing my secret method of dealing with everything.
The lemon tree continued to languish and eventually we hauled the sickly patient off to the plant doctor for an exam. We waited anxiously. After a long while, the Doc came out and broke the bad news, "You're over-watering it. Let it dry out for a week and cut the watering in half."
My wife's scowl was menacing and surprisingly relentless on that long ride home. She'd raised that tree from a pup and deep down; she knew I was somehow responsible.
"What?" I finally said.
"You've been watering it on the side, haven't you?"
"I said I didn't. Well, maybe once."
And that would have been the end of it if the rest of the leaves hadn't fallen off and after a few months, it became clear that the tree had passed over to the "other side", wherever it is that dead trees go.
We stared at it together, a dead brown stick. That's when I happened to notice a Himalayan pink rock that she had used as a decoration in the dirt at the foot of the stick. A pink rock leaching 84 poisonous trace elements straight into the lemon tree roots.
"Say, uh," I said, "wherever did you find that pretty pink rock?"
"It was on your workbench forever. I used it to decorate the pot. Why, what is it?"
"What it is, is time to get another lemon tree."