The Secret Herb

A woman told her daughter, "Go out, and gather the secret herb."
"What is it?" the daughter asked, "I have never seen the secret herb."

"You must find it yourself," the mother said. "That is the way". Then the mother told her what to look for, and what to smell for, and what to taste for, but little on what to avoid.

The daughter left and searched for the secret herb. She met others on her way, who each told her they had the secret herb, and gladly offered theirs. Each time the girl decided, no, this isn’t what I need. Later the girl turned a corner, and walked over a rise, and discovered what she sought.

"I have found the secret herb," she told her mother, upon her return. 

"How did you gather it?" the mother asked. "Did you gather it under the full moon’s glow, with your hands pushed deep into the earth?"

"No," said the girl.  

"Oh," said the mother, "then it is no good." 

So they told stories instead, and ate and drank and slept under the same roof. The girl again left to search for the secret herb, searching far and low. She met new friends and old, each saying they had it. That isn’t what I need, she always decided. At last she found the herb again and gathered it as she should.
"Here is the secret herb," she told her mother.
"Was it cleaned the day it was picked? And dried upon the morn, over the smoke of a slow smolder?"

"No," said the girl. 
"Oh," said the mother, "Then it is spoiled." 
So instead they told stories and ate and drank and laughed and cried and slept under the same roof.

Some time passed before the daughter found the herb again, in a place she did not expect. She gathered it, and cleaned it, dried it in the smoke.

"Come mother," the daughter said, "this is the secret herb."  

"Did you blend it into honey? And seal the bottle with wax?"  

"No," said the daughter.  

"Ah," said the mother, "then it is not ready." So they ate and talked and reminisced.

"Oh mother," sighed the daughter, "when will I have the secret herb?"

"Never, I hope, my darling daughter."