Everything changed in March of this year, starting with putting Ye Olde Mandrake on hiatus, and culminating in a move to a house where I'd set up a garden and build a chicken coop before the summer.
As is true with so many things that nurture and inspire and sustain, however, it was impossible to forget aromatics entirely.
I remember patchouli whenever I dig into a row for planting. Even the most lackluster dirt in a backyard that time forgot has hints of this dusty golden ripeness, after a good rain, or after a watering in the late afternoon sun.
And I fell in love with the smell of wheat straw. The first bale from the feed store changed some things entirely, and I learned that I like hay-type smells after all. Happy surprise? It wasn't like Foin coupe, the traditional hay absolute (which I like in moderation, on occasion, like when the stars are in harmonic convergence, and the sun and moon change places and my cat spontaneously starts to talk). It smells of dried golden things, sunshine, sweet earth, and warmth.
The chickens have their decidedly poultry smell, but it is not bad at all. I replaced the straw with pine wood shavings last month, which added a beautiful foresty tone to the yard. If anything, the chickens enhance their environment. When I feed them melon rinds and seeds, the run smells of those white wonder watermelons I grew on a whim but never did get very sweet. When I feed them the noir des carmes melons which are fabulously aromatic but insipid in taste, the yard smells of sweet melons.
Then there are the 18 tomato plants, with that green, astringent, and rather acrid odor all their own. The first Wapsipinicon peach tomatoes actually tasted of that smell, and it was otherwordly, and faintly wicked. Then... they came back to earth and were merely peachy-toned tomatoes with faintly soft skins.
My favorite yard smell? That would be freshly-husked corn. It matters not how long I waited to pull the ear off of the plant, or if the husks are drying, or if the kernels are not all developed; the silk, inner husks and cob are sweet. And I'd forgotten that smell completely, in the 25 years since I'd last harvested corn for my nana. Sweet, green, powdery, confectionary almost, and very faintly herbaceous. I pulled up half of the rainbow Inca last night, in preparation for letting the chickens go wild in that patch to prepare it for next spring, and found myself just sniffing the papery dry husks as I stood over the compost pile.
Perfume is everywhere.
I finally unpacked half of my essences on Tuesday. It was a second home-coming, after the garden beckoning and welcoming me and my nose every day when I go out there to water.
So, as I water, I consider Jasminum sambac, with a base of wheat straw, and a touch of melon rind in the top. I consider Lavandula abrialis with a hit of flowering sage, pine shavings from the coop, and some crushed lemon leaves. Perfume is why I get up in the morning, go about my chores, and then come inside to remember what the essences all smell like. It is remembrance, and the present.
And, as it turns out, I never did actually take a break from it.