|Patchouli Harvest Indonesia|
|Red apple taken in winter|
But the cow is the friend of the apple. How many trees she has planted about the farm, in the edge of the woods, and in remote fields and pastures! The wild apples, celebrated by Thoreau, are mostly of her planting. She browses them down, to be sure, but they are hers, and why should she not?
What an individuality the apple-tree has, each variety being nearly as marked by its form as by its fruit. What a vigorous grower, for instance, is the Ribston pippin, an English apple, — wide-branching like the oak; its large ridgy fruit, in late fall or early winter, is one of my favorites. Or the thick and more pendent top of the bellflower, with its equally rich, sprightly, uncloying fruit.
Sweet apples are perhaps the most nutritious, and when baked are a feast in themselves. With a tree of the Jersey sweet or of the Talman sweet in bearing, no man's table need be devoid of luxuries and one of the most wholesome of all desserts. Or the red astrachan, an August apple, — what a gap may be filled in the culinary department of a household at this season by a single tree of this fruit! And what a feast is its shining crimson coat to the eye before its snow-white flesh has reached the tongue! But the apple of apples for the household is the spitzenburg. In this casket Pomona has put her highest flavors. It can stand the ordeal of cooking, and still remain a spitz. I recently saw a barrel of these apples from the orchard of a fruit-grower in the northern part of New York, who has devoted especial attention to this variety. They were perfect gems. Not large, — that had not been the aim, — but small, fair, uniform, and red to the core. How intense, how spicy and aromatic!
But all the excellences of the apple are not confined to the cultivated fruit. Occasionally a seedling springs up about the farm that produces fruit of rare beauty and worth. In sections peculiarly adapted to the apple, like a certain belt along the Hudson River, I have noticed that most of the wild, unbidden trees bear good, edible fruit. In cold and ungenial districts the seedlings are mostly sour and crabbed, but in more favorable soils they are oftener mild and sweet. I know wild apples that ripen in August, and that do not need, if it could be had, Thoreau's sauce of sharp, November air to be eaten with. At the foot of a hill near me, and striking its roots deep in the shale, is a giant specimen of native tree that bears an apple that has about the clearest, waxiest, most transparent complexion I ever saw. It is of good size, and the color of a tea rose. Its quality is best appreciated in the kitchen. I know another seedling of excellent quality, and so remarkable for its firmness and density that it is known on the farm where it grows as the "heavy apple."
|Robin on Birch|
A thin white mist covered the valleys around the fiord and the sides of the mountains, whose icy summits, sparkling like stars, pierced the vapor and gave it the appearance of a moving milky way. The sun was visible through the haze like a globe of red fire. Though winter still lingered, puffs of warm air laden with the scent of the birch-trees, already adorned with their rosy efflorescence, and of the larches, whose silken tassels were beginning to appear, — breezes tempered by the incense and the sighs of earth, — gave token of the glorious Northern spring, the rapid, fleeting joy of that most melancholy of Natures. The wind was beginning to lift the veil of mist which half-obscured the gulf. The birds sang. The bark of the trees where the sun had not yet dried the clinging hoar-frost shone gayly to the eye in its fantastic wreathings which trickled away in murmuring rivulets as the warmth reached them. The three friends walked in silence along the shore. Wilfrid and Minna alone noticed the magic transformation that was taking place in the monotonous picture of the winter landscape. Their companion walked in thought, as though a voice were sounding to her ears in this concert of Nature.
Seraphita. Jesus Christ in Flanders. The exilesBy Honoré de Balzac
|Olive Tree (Olea europaea), Sardinia, Italy|
The Brickbuilder, Volume 9
|Tsuga canadensis foliage and cone. Chester, New Hampshire.|
No evergreen is so graceful and suggestive of wild woodland ways as this feathery denizen of the forest, that seems to shrink from the companionship of man. The perfume of its boughs reminds one of camps in the woods, of canoes, of Indian guides, and silent solitudes. For me it has ever a peculiar and elusive charm, and I cannot come in my wanderings upon some majestic old tree beside a granite boulder, as it loves to grow, without a thrill compounded of association and admiration. The Hemlock seems to possess every beauty that a tree can have: its form, whether it be symmetrical with youth, or gnarled and twisted by age, is always impressive and noble; the murmur of its boughs is tenderly musical, its fragrance exquisitely wild and aromatic; its very shyness has a charm that seems to breathe distinction, and, best of all, it is perennially green, so that its blue shadows on the snow give one of the loveliest tones in a winter landscape.
The rescue of an old placeBy Mary Caroline (Pike) Robbins
Fragrance Quote for January 4th, 2013- Narrative of an expedition to the Polar Sea: in the years 1820 - 1823 By Edward Sabine
Next day was a laborious one; after passing the marshes, we had to make our way through a thick wood of larch, poplars, and willows, to the only spot where the Tukulan could be forded. We pitched our tent on its wild shores. Before us were the snowy mountains, behind us the forest, and the silence around was only broken by the loud rushing of the torrent. We crossed early in the morning on the 20th, the current was formidable, and the water up to our saddles; but the bottom of the ford was hard, and we passed safely, though thoroughly wetted. We had to cross other streams less broad, but equally rapid. We found the valley of one of these so strewed with trunks of trees and masses of rock, brought down by the torrent when swollen by the melting of the snows in spring, that our horses made their way with difficulty. Winter seemed to have commenced; the thermometer was at 21°, and the ground was covered with snow. We were rather pleased with this foretaste of a nomad winter life. We chose for the night a clear spot of ground between high trees, which afforded some protection from the weather; we then swept away the snow, and dragged to the place so cleared the withered trunk of a tree, which formed the foundation of a blazing fire that sent its light far and near. Our guides soon strewed the ground round the fire with a quantity of dry branches, on which they placed a layer of the green branches of the dwarf cedar. On this fragrant carpet we pitched our three little tents, forming three sides of a square round the fire. Our guides thought the snowy ground on the fourth side quite good enough, and used their saddles for pillows. Whilst we pitched our tents, they unloaded the horses, rubbed them down with dry grass, and fastened them to the trees, that they might not eat snow or damp grass till they were cool.
Narrative of an expedition to the Polar Sea: in the years 1820 - 1823By Edward Sabine
Few trees are more interesting in winter than the sassafras. The color of their smooth, bare stems is an exquisite shade of green, the terminal buds are large for the size of the slender twigs and tiny leaf-scars, and the delicious, aromatic taste and fragrance when the twigs are broken are most unusual. The branches often have a curious spirally twisted appearance, a corkscrew effect, which with the rough bark of the trunk give the tree an ancient weather-beaten aspect when it is comparatively young. The sassafras was one of the first American trees which became known in Europe. In the middle of the sixteenth century the French in Florida were told by the Indians about its curative properties, and from that time it was sought after, — sassafras roots having formed a part of the first cargo exported from Massachusetts. J. C. Loudon, an English writer on trees sixty years ago, had an original theory, that the discovery of America was largely due to the sassafras. "It was its strong fragrance smelt by Columbus," he says, in the third volume of his "Arboretum," "that encouraged him to persevere when his crew mutinied, and enabled him to convince them that land was near at hand."
Thoreau in his walks through the winter woods about Concord in February says: " When I break off a twig of green-barked sassafras, as I am going through the woods now, and smell it, I am startled to find it as fragrant as in summer. It is an importation of all the spices of Oriental summers into our New England winter, very foreign to the snow and the oak leaves." This Oriental spiciness may be partly accounted for by the fact that our sassafras is related to the camphor and cinnamon trees of the tropics.
"The dogs are noisy," said the tutor, "too noisy. We must have quiet—peace and quiet." His lean hand was once more in his pocket, and he pulled out a box, from which he took some powder, which he scattered on the burning log. A slight smoke now rose from the hot embers, and floated into the room. Was the powder one of those strange compounds that act upon the brain? Was it a magician's powder? Who knows? With it came a sweet, subtle fragrance. It was strange—every one fancied he had smelt it before, and all were absorbed in wondering what it was, and where they had met with it. Even the dogs sat on their haunches with their noses up, sniffing in a speculative manner.
"It's not lavender," said the grandmother, slowly, "and it's not rosemary. There is a something of tansy in it (and a very fine tonic flavour too, my dears, though it's not in fashion now). Depend upon it, it's a potpourri, and from an excellent receipt, sir "— and the old lady bowed courteously towards the tutor. "My mother made the best potpourri in the county, and it was very much like this. Not quite, perhaps, but much the same, much the same."
The grandmother was a fine old gentlewoman "of the old school," as the phrase is. She was very stately and gracious in her manners, daintily neat in her person, and much attached to the old parson of the parish, who now sat near her chair. All her life she had been very proud of her fine stock of fair linen, both household and personal; and for many years past had kept her own graveclothes ready in a drawer. They were bleached as white as snow, and lay amongst bags of dried lavender and potpourri. Many times had it seemed likely that they would be needed, for the old lady had had severe illnesses of late, when the good parson sat by her bedside, and read to her of the coming of the Bridegroom, and of that "fine linen clean and white," which is "the righteousness of the saints." It was of that drawer, with its lavender and potpourri bags, that the scented smoke had reminded her.
"It has rather an overpowering odour," said the old parson; "it is suggestive of incense. I am sure I once smelt something like it in the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem. It is very delicious."
The parson's long residence in his parish had been marked by one great holiday. With the savings of many years he had performed a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; and it was rather a joke against him that he illustrated a large variety of subjects by reference to his favourite topic, the holiday of his life.
"It smells of gunpowder," said Jim, decidedly, "and something else. I can't tell what."
"Something one smells in a seaport town," said Tom.
"Can't be very delicious then," Jim retorted.
"It's not quite the same," piped the widow; "but it reminds me very much of an old bottle of attar of roses that was given to me when I was at school, with a copy of verses, by a young gentleman who was brother to one of the pupils. I remember Mr. Jones was quite annoyed when he found it in an old box, where I am sure I had not touched it for ten years or more; and I never spoke to him but once, on Examination Day (the young gentleman, I mean). And its like—yes it's certainly like a hairwash Mr. Jones used to use. I've forgotten what it was called, but I know it cost fifteen shillings a bottle j and Macready threw one over a few weeks before his dear papa's death, and annoyed him extremely."By Juliana Horatia Gatty Ewing
The brownies: and other tales
The brownies: and other tales
Jan. 8, 1842. When, as now, in January a south wind melts the snow, and the bare ground appears covered with sere grass and occasionally wilted green leaves, which seem in doubt whether to let go their greenness quite or absorb new juices against the coming year, in such a season a perfume seems to exhale from the earth itself, and the south wind melts my integuments also. Then is she my mother earth. I derive a real vigor from the scent of the gale wafted over the naked ground, as from strong meats, and realize again how man is the pensioner of nature. We are always conciliated and cheered when we are fed by an influence, and our needs are felt to be part of the domestic economy of nature.
Nobody would call the primrose a strongly scented flower, but then not every one had wandered down Love Lane, which was merely a private cart-way circling round Blue Violet and ending at the farm, or Starke's as it was usually called. There the great hedges were yellow with primroses heated by the sun and giving forth an odour of indescribable fulness, not crude and drunken like the breath of exotics which suggests violence and loss of restraint, but in a measure stronger because so delicate That odour of the primrose is spring, only you cannot get it undiluted. The smell of the earth will rise at the same time and the earth remains; the primrose is only a passing pilgrim, saying as it comes and goes, "I am the idyll"; but the earth is there always, saying, "I am the reality."