Fragrance Quote for September 9th, 2012-From Now- Volume 6, Issues 2-28

Credit for Autumn in New England Images



It is true that our thoughts and feelings give tone and beauty to the landscape. Everything had a sweeter and more profound meaning to me than ever before, I had learned as now to "Be still and KNOW!", I was getting acquainted with Henry under new conditions. This was my first and most lasting impressions of this New England Autumn. I know more of myself. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols were at the old homestead five miles even from a trolley line, passing the summer. Didn't I revel in the autumn verdure, with nuts, grapes, and the deep tints of sky, and beautiful, nearer stars than our Pacific atmosphere gives us. And what a wealth of flowers! I had forgotten them, but soon we renewed our old friendship. Asters of so many varieties from white to deepest purple made the fields and roadsides merry. Then everywhere the golden-rod, several varieties, so filled the view one could not help but be jolly companion with it. The toad-flax with its most fragile dedicate purple petals that I had completely forgotten, was soon under my feet pleading for recognition. But the berries! Solomon's seal reddening the green of the ferns, and the bright scarlet berries of jack-in-the-pulpit among the damp grass. The checker-berry with its pleasant pungent flavor side by side with the partridge berry gave brightness to the brown of the club moss with which he consorted. The white of the bane-berry side by side with the imposing scarlet of the black alder. The latter making me think of the red-coats of 1776 with whom my ancestors contended. Here peacefully they ornamented the fields we won from- them. Elder-berries with no mother to make of them wine or pies. Something better now for that. The white berries of the dogwood and wax berries adding a Quaker hush to all the rest. Bay-berries full of a fragrance that reminds you of nothing but salt sea winds. Now and then I stopped to pluck handfuls of the wild grape whose fragrance filled the air. So different from our California vineyards from which so little fragrance rises. Here is the sour fox wild ones to the progenitors of the Concord, which is really to me the finest of all in i ts fragrance. The vines ran all over the stone walls, the shrubs by the road-side, and so> plentifully filled one need only pluck a handful at a time, for the woods and fields were one great vineyard.

Then the herbs that I as a boy would gather for storing in the attics, for surely they would be needed in winter. Some of us boys would need boneset, catnip and pennyroyal. And it is a royal, yielding, beatutiful fragrance even when trodden upon. Sasafras and birch tempted me often to taste their bark. It was harmless and tender as a puppy's, but pleasant. While along the road-sides the tansey made known its qualities by its yellow berries and its pungent odor. Spearmint and peppermint in damp places; and everlasting in the dryer added their well remembered and still enjoyed fragrance. Occasionally bitter-sweet would cheer us with its orange clusters of berries, later to burst the capsules and show a deep red fruit. It proved itself again as it often of old had the real gem of Autumn's berry-crown of beauty. The false genitan and monkshood were in their place in the swamps; the brilliant cardinal flower burned by the brookside; the pickerel-weed floated on water. But I did not find the queen of all for fragrance, litheness and purity, the pond-lilly. The sweetest of all odors had departed with spring, when the Arbutus left. And the graceful lady-inwaiting of Autumn—the fringed gentian had not yet heard the call of coronation. In vain I implored her appearance, as I walked the brooksides repeating Whittiers' "Psalm":

"The blue-eyed gentian shall look
Through fringed lids to heaven!"

But she was too coy and I failed to greet one of the dear friends of my childhood's Autumn. But sometime t will yet see her, even as I saw the Arbutus last spring.