I remember when I was young we had a patch of mint growing on the side of our house. It started off as just a little bit, but quickly grew into a big expanse. We had a neighbor at the time who was Vietnamese - she married an American service man during the Vietnam war and they settled in Bellevue when his tour of duty was over. One day she must have discovered the mint plant, because she rang our doorbell and asked if she could have some. My mother told her to take as much as she wanted. I don't think my parents ever knew what to do with the mint, maybe they put a pinch in iced tea or something, but it was hardly ever used it. I'm not even sure why they planted it, but our neighbors loved it and pretty soon her relatives and friends started ringing the doorbell to see if they could have some too. My parents finally told them all that they were welcome to our mint whenever they wanted, no need to ask first. These people were very nice, and they were also excellent cooks. I know this because they would come by from time to time to offer us some Vietnamese delicacy that they had just made with our fresh mint. I remember especially liking their fragile spring rolls that were bursting with fresh vegetables and that lovely mint. These foods seemed so exotic to me and my bland American palate, and opened up a peek into the vast, gastronomical world that I knew must exist somewhere outside of our very ordinary neighborhood. I'm not sure what happened to the couple next door, I think they may have gotten divorced or something and then they moved away. I remember that her family and friends still came over for that mint, until one day when they didn't. I later used it as a breath mint to mask the smell of cigarettes and liquor. I always did like that plant.
Today, that mint plant is no longer on the side of my parents house. I think they finally dug it up as they had no real use for it. But Sparky and I have mint growing outside with the other spices. A few weeks ago, I was picking some basil when I discovered a pot that contained a bunch of dried twigs with a sad leaf or two of mint still attached. It must have gotten moved around the yard and then lost in the shuffle, and it wasn't watered for a while. I knew that if it was properly watered again that it would come back - these are some hardy ass plants. My parents always said that it was impossible to kill a mint plant, even if you had the blackest thumb around. So Sparky watered that little guy and gave it some love, and lo and behold, we have abundant mint again. I use it all the time now. I just used some last night in a corn dish that I make. I really like this plant and I cannot say it enough: I love fresh mint!