Fragrant Quote for August 28th, 2012-The Nation, Volume 78/Scent of Corsica

Maquis of Corsica Image Credit



Not less beautiful than are these Inner forests, and far more cheerful, is the vegetation which clothes so profusely the lower hills and descends to the very edge of this sunny Southern sea. Corsica has of all the Mediterranean coasts the greatest abundance of scrub wood and undergrowth. Nothing is so characteristic of its scenery as are the masses of shrubs which form what the people call macchie or fin French) maquis. This shrub growth consists chiefly of heath, sometimes fifteen or twenty feet high, with a wealth of whitish or purplish flowers, of glossy arbutus, of lentisk with its reddish blossoms, and of two kinds of cistus—one with large blossoms of a brilliant pink, the other with somewhat smaller white flowers, resembling at a little distance the white roses of an English hedgerow. Other plants grow among the maquis, especially the aromatic rosemary with light blue, and the lavender with dark purple, flowers, as well as more than one kind of a broomlike shrub whose yellow blossoms light up the pale heath and the darker green of arbutus and ilex. It is these shrubs that give to Corsica that peculiar scent of which Napoleon used to talk at St. Helena as the feature of his birthland that most recalled it to him. as indeed it most dwells In the memory of those who know the Isle, for nothing takes a stronger hold on memory than odors. It is half pungent from the aromatic flowers, half sweet from the honeyed leaves of the cistus and the fainter scent of the heath blossoms. It comes out best under the sun; nor is anything more delicious than the whiffs of fragrance which the cool mountain breeze brings down along thebe slopes.