Fragrant Quote for December 5th, 2011 from The Jonathan papers By Elisabeth Woodbridge Morris

What that strange sweetness of the early spring is I have never fully discovered. The fragrance of flowers is in it, — hepaticas, white violets, arbutus, — yet it is none of these. It comes before any-of the flowers are even astir, when the arbutus buds are still tight little green points, when the hepaticas have scarcely pushed open their winter sheaths, while their soft little gray-furred heads are still tucked down snugly, like a bird's head under its wing. Before even the snowdrops at our feet and the maples overhead have thought of blossoming, a soft breath may blow across our path filled with this wondrous fragrance. It is like a dream of May. One might believe the fairies were passing by.

For years I was completely baffled by it. But one March, in the farm orchard, I found out part of the secret. I was planting my sweet peas, when the well-remembered and bewildering fragrance blew across me. I sprang up and ran up the wind, and there, in the midst of the old orchard, I came upon an old apple tree just cut down by the thrift of Jonathan's farmer, who has no silly weakness for old apple trees. The fresh-cut wood was moist with sap, and as I bent over it — ah, there it was! Here were my hepaticas, my arbutus, here in the old apple tree! Such a surprise! I sat down beside it to think it over. I was sorry it was cut down, but glad it had told me its secret before it was made into logs and piled in the woodshed. Blazing in the fireplace it would tell me many things, but it might perhaps not have told me that.

And so I knew part of the secret. But only part. For the same fragrance has blown to me often where there were no orchards and no newly felled apple trees, and I have never, except this once, been able to trace it. If it is the flowing sap in all trees, why are not the spring woods full of it? But they are not full of it; it comes only now and then, with tantalizing capriciousness. Do sound trees exhale it, certain kinds, when the sap starts, or must they have been cut or bruised, if not by the axe, perhaps by the winter winds and the ice storms? I do not know. I only know that when that breath of sweetness comes, it is the very breath of spring itself; it is the call of spring out of winter — spring grass.
Fragrant Quote for December 5th, 2011 from The Jonathan papers By Elisabeth Woodbridge Morris