Salve on a See-Saw

Teetering on the edge between Ann Arbor and Whitmore Lake

Tottering out at Caryn Simon's farm. In the background if you look close, some chickens are visible. (Photo by the writer.)

[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks appear on The Chronicle.]

I care what things are called. Therefore I do not take lightly the headline written for this introduction to the most recent Teeter Talk – with Caryn Simon. I do not prefer the term “see-saw.” In fact I rather dislike it.

It’s a teeter totter, not a see-saw, and I want you to remember that.

Given that I have the power to write headlines as I like, why use a term I find odious? Because “see-saw” alliterates with “salve.” And I enjoy alliteration more than I dislike the term “see-saw.” Why “salve”? Because Caryn teaches a class on salve-making. [First session is July 18 July 11. Contact Info here. ]

Caryn makes salves from scratch, starting with fresh flowers picked on her farm. The morning of our totter ride up on North Territorial Road last week, she made tea from scratch after picking lemon balm from her garden.

In the course of her Talk we touched on salve-making, her work as a doula, whether she lives in Ann Arbor or Whitmore Lake, and what led her to lead the kind of life she’s living.

In the category of everything-is-connected-to-everything, I would put the following fact: Some of the chickens on Caryn’s farm were only one degree separated from the teeter totter prior to her ride. It  turns out that some of her chickens are refugees from Peter Beal’s place, which he had to abandon a couple of years ago.

On the totter I learned a lot – among other things that a salve is different from a paste. It did not occur to me to ask Caryn if a salve was the same as a tincture. I wish I had. I might have gotten a better headline out of that.


  1. July 7, 2009 at 9:32 am | permalink

    In medicine, a tincture is an alcoholic extract (e.g. of leaves or other plant material) or solution of a non-volatile substance; (e.g. of iodine, mercurochrome). To qualify as a tincture, the alcoholic extract is to have an ethanol percentage of at least 40-60% (sometimes a 90% percent pure liquid is even achieved). [1] Solutions of volatile substances were called spirits, although that name was also given to several other materials obtained by distillation, even when they did not include alcohol. In chemistry, a tincture is a solution that has alcohol as the solvent.

    (My source is Wikipedia, but it matches in essence all other sources.)

  2. By sal
    July 7, 2009 at 12:36 pm | permalink

    Since Sabra nicely explained the difference between a salve and a tincture, could you explain the difference between a see saw and a teeter totter? Thank you.

  3. By Dave Askins
    July 7, 2009 at 3:03 pm | permalink

    As far as I know, the only crucial difference between a see-saw and a teeter totter is that I prefer the term “teeter totter” to describe that object. Implying that there is some actual technical difference is a cheap rhetorical ploy to which I sometimes appeal in an attempt at subtle intimidation on behalf of my preference.

  4. By Linda Diane Feldt
    July 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm | permalink

    Actually, common usage of “tincture” can include using other mediums to extract material from a plant. Vinegar and glycerin are also both used. If you use water we call it an infusion. They take time to make, 4-6 weeks for alcohol, vinegar or glycerin. A water infusion may be 1/2 hour to overnight.

    And while it is common usage to drink”herbal teas” they are truly tissanes. Only the actual tea plant makes tea. But it is so common to call all of it “tea” I don’t think that usage will change.

    Speaking as an herbalist…

    And thanks for getting the word out about herbs, Dave and Caryn!

    Easy, inexpensive, and very nourishing for so many systems of the body. And I have letters from clients saying they think it was the oatstraw infusion made from early oat plants) that enabled them to get pregnant, so a tea that creates pregnancy is possible.

    And to prevent fertility? Wild Carrot – Queen Ann’s Lace. The seeds were used by women. We have evidence it works, but not enough info on dosage and reversability. But I’ve also seen heavy carrot users with fertility problems get pregnant once they stopped eating so many carrots. Anecdotal info, but interesting.

  5. July 8, 2009 at 1:16 pm | permalink

    What next! So much talk about titillating tinctures and selling out for salubrious salves, Intimidation ploys be damned, an online newspaper simply in order to gain readers and make a profit must pledge to us that it will not stoop to the writing of alliterative headlines on so-called ‘tell all’ stories such as this about 2009′s summer jobs,

    “She sold sea shells on the seashore
    and says so on the See-Saw”

    The Chronicle must set the standard for quality and not cave in to pressure no matter the cost.

  6. By AP60
    July 8, 2009 at 8:47 pm | permalink

    I’m glad that this issue was raised here, because I hope to get an answer to the question that keeps coming back since the moment I’ve found out about essential oils: What is the difference in understanding / acceptance to this issue compared to the use of tobacco, opium, or morphine, say 100 years ago?

    These products were back then perceived helpful, sometimes stimulating, sometimes healing, until solid research proved otherwise.