Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ll be using manicules (those pointing finger symbols) to direct your attention to something I’m pondering that delights or interests me. Each entry is somehow related to an unusual, obscure, or simply charming to me word.
M is for…
macrosmatic – having a good sense of smell
Humans can detect at least one trillion different smells. Amazing isn’t it?! It’s also true that our olfactory palettes are forged by many things, including particularities and peculiarities of our noses, personal preferences, and even early childhood memories. We all experience scents slightly differently, based on a combination of individual sensitivities.
As an aromatherapist and natural botanical perfumer, scent is very important to me. Maybe I’m saying that backwards. I suspect the truth is that I became an aromatherapist and perfumer BECAUSE I have such a great love of fragrance.
I committed a long time ago to avoid use of synthetic fragrances in my life and instead strongly advocate for the intimate connection to nature that comes from working with and only wearing botanical aromatic treasures from flowers, leaves, barks, seeds, resins, rinds, and roots.
Fragrance can be complex both aromatically and in the feelings, memories, and thoughts it evokes. It is my belief that the natural world has so much to teach us and we should listen carefully. What I really love about fragrance is it’s ability to transport; to delight; to deepen; to lighten.
The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. As Lewis Thomas so cogently puts it:
“The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odor around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one center after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection. ”
I’m in love with this Rumi quote:
“The morning wind spreads its fresh smell. We must get up and take that in, that wind that lets us live. Breathe before it’s gone.”
That’s the admonition I take to heart, and hope to live every day.
Often when I’m working with perfumes and oils, I muse about the concept of ineffability – that which is incapable of being expressed or described in words. I think a lot about Rumi’s work and other mystics who sought to express the inexpressible. Rumi often taught that poetic language was like scent that can only provide a hint of the Divine. I feel like I’m always reaching into that – poetry, scent, and the Divine are beautifully mixed together for me.
I also appreciate the charming Chinese proverb:
“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.”
I certainly like the idea of that. In the giving much is received as well. As a reminder I have this little card up in my studio. I scented the paper with a beautiful Bulgarian rose essential oil and the hieroglyphics are my name Deborah.
What beauty are you allowing yourself to breathe in? Have a favorite natural fragrance? Love the wind as I do? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
I love the smell of the air after it rains–so fresh and clean. I don’t love the wind but I don’t mind breezes. (which I think is meant in the poem) I don’t like big trees or my fence coming down so I’m always a bit nervous when it blows. (from past experience)
Yes to rain-fresh air! I love the wind and the sense that it’s possible to step into it, raise one’s arms and fly.
I like the smell of vanilla and cinnamon best.
I thought the same thing this morning Janet as I made French toast.
It is always interesting to see what my cat smells on my fingers as remnants of whatever project I’ve been doing previously
Kitties do like to keep on top of things. 🙂
Well, there’s the smell of coffee, clean, sun dried sheets on the bed, freshly cut grass, approaching rain after a dry spell, a roast dinner, the salty smell of the sea, smoke from a log fire, baking bread, the room when I’m ironing… thanks for the manicure.
Oh, all those wonderful scents Linda! Sheets dried in the sun are the absolute best to crawl into. And it always delights me to think about how it happens. How does the sun perfume? And next thing I know I’ve drifted off. It doesn’t get better than that,
I noticed when we took certain foods out of our diet we have a better sense of smell. lavender (my go to for life)
Thanks for sharing this and the 2 quotes – perfect
That interesting Leslie. Lavender is lovely, although for me it triggers such relaxation I can find myself become sleepy.
I like the idea of scented paper. I know it was common at different times throughout history for women to spritz perfume on letters to lovers. Do the idea of scented paper feels nostalgic to me in a way.
I don’t have a favorite scent but am partial to vanilla… I like a “creamy” or “cozy” vanilla scent, if that makes sense. As opposed to things that smell of artificial vanilla extract. Some of my other favorite scents are also food-ish: coconut, hot cocoa, cookies being baked, popcorn, etc. 🙂
Creamy vanilla is a perfect descriptionj and I daresay one every perfumer would recognize. And it is so different from artifical. I like all your preferred food-ish scents as well – and just reading your list is triggering a hunger response. 🙂
I noticed the scent of spring tree blossoms on the air on my walk by the river today. The woods and river always smell so fresh, but it was an extra treat to have the sweet fragrance on the chilly breeze.
Oh yes! Sometimes I like to imagine Spring is there just to see how much our hearts can hold of all the beauty the world gives us.
Ooooooh! That Rumi quote!
I’ve been greeting the dawn with deep breathing at my front door lately, and the scents I smell are luscious.
Oh, that delights me so Anne. It’s still a bit cold where I’m at and the trees haven’t started to bud, but I’m anticipating soon the scents of blossoms will waft on the breeze.
Such an aromatic post. Enjoyed reading it
The quotes summarise what u wanna convey. Love them….yes smells are often associated with memories…they evoke a divine sense of pleasure…..that hand card is so bful complements the quote
Dropping by from a to z http://afshan-shaik.blogspot.com/
Thanks Afshan. It always delights me to share my love of scent.
The Chinese proverb is lovely, and I especially like your little collage with the wind and the flowering tree. I do love the wind!
When we take our walks in the evenings sometimes I think I could find my way around just by scent: the flowering tree here, the different houses running their driers with different brands of detergent, the place where there’s sometimes a very slight gas leak (not good!), the marshy area, someone making Indian food here, another family grilling…
M is for Magic and Mutant
I love the image of you following a trail of scents. I have some wonderful experiences with “scentscapes” taking workshops with an Egyptologist who “walked” us through an ancient Egyptian city – from the temples and gardens to areas where laborers worked and lived – and provided little vials of scents to be sniffed at apporiate times during the presentation. It was such fun and wildly informative.
The Chinese proverb and your rose scented card have brought a sense of peace to me.
Thank you Deborah.
I love good scents … garlic roasting in butter, smell of baking , sandalwood, lemons, baby shampoo …
When we apply henna to our hands and then eat curd rice after that its a beautiful scent and feeling you know 🙂
What a lovely array of scents! I love henna too – it’s such a beautiful complex Earthy scent. Then layered with curd rice – wonderful!