Fragrance in the Writings of John Ingersoll

"In all the crevices of the rocks, wherever there was enough powdered granite to form a soil for their roots, were tiny little white blossoms, fairy stars or flowers, with just their heads above the ground, and an exquisite perfume breathing from them. Bidding the guide to sinch up quickly for the down trip, we partook of the signal sergeant's coffee, and listened to his anecdotes of his lonesome life of two weeks on the mountain and two weeks in town.
The crest of the continent: a record of a summer's ramble in the Rocky ...
By Ernest Ingersoll

The singing of the birds is now at its climax, too—the crowning grace of this sweetest month of the year. How much of the joyousness of June is due to their melody! How it welcomes the rising of the day upon a blooming and odorous world with glorious matins, and ushers in the evening with vesper hymns! But every hour of this happy season is ringing with bird music, as it is redolent of the perfume of flowers. One hears, first of all, at the earliest gray intimation of dawn, the cheerful summons of the robin. The phcebe is quickest to make response to this reveille, but it is hardly light before all the others are awake and in tune. From the borders of the distant wood come the rollicking whistle of the cardinal and the staccato notes of that other "redbird," the fiery, black-winged tanager, while shrill exclamations from flickers and oven-birds and redstarts strike through the softer, more continuous melody of the thrushes. In the deeper woods, at sunrise, the illumined arches of the trees are vivid with the gay coats and pleasant chatter of warblers, flycatchers, and titmice. The meadows and pasture-lands echo to the jolly roundelay of the song sparrow, the prattling of field sparrows and indigo-birds, while the crazy bobolinks, hovering over grass or grain, are no wilder in their antics than are the yellow-breasted chats that turn somersaults above the roadside thickets. Here and in the orchard are heard, in the brisk morning air, the warbling of the vireos, the clear carols of the two orioles, the brilliant performance of the rosebreasted grosbeak; while close about the house, as we step from the door to take a look at the morning, our ears are pleased with the exquisite voices of wren and yellow-bird, vireo, chebec, blackbird, and half a dozen other intimate friends.
Nature's calendar:
By Ernest Ingersoll

The Indian sat and smoked in gloomy silence for a long time. The river gurgled under the murmuring trees, the cedar boughs crackled in the fire and threw out their aromatic perfume, broken clouds scudded across the sky, now blotting out and now revealing the stars, and far out upon the gusty uplands the long-drawn, sighing wail of a coyote came like the cry of the spirit of the dead picture-writer, as the young people waited for the Indian's reply: —
"You have been good to me. I will stay."
An island in the air: a story of singular adventures in the Mesa country
By Ernest Ingersoll

A few orchids, arethusa, for instance, and the magnificent white and purple lady's slipper can be found; but in looking over a list of June blooming plants, the number of flowers with wax-like petals is noticeable; especially are there many species of the heather tribe. When the odor of the richly scented white azaleas comes floating over the swamps, mingled with the lemon-like fragrance of the wild grape, and one discovers the white bells of pyrola, wintergreen, and the ghostly Indian pipe growing in the same bit of woodland, and then goes down to the pond and sees the lilies floating lazily in the black water, even the most careless loiterer cannot avoid noticing the waxiness of many of the flowers.
Nature's calendar
By Ernest Ingersoll

One means of investigation remaining is the scent, and this they would use to great advantage, examining the different smells as their journey progressed', and stowing them away in their memory to be followed back in inverse order when they have a chance to return. Granting to these animals the discriminating sense of smell which experience shows to be possessed by them, I do not see any reason why they should not be able to remember a journey by its succession of odors just as well as they would by its successive landmarks to the eye. Even we, with our comparatively useless noses, can smell the sea from afar; can scent the sweetness of the green fields as well as the smokiness of black towns; and can distinguish these general and continuous odors from special or concentrated odors, which latter would change direction as the smeller changed position. How far this sense has really been developed in the human subject, perhaps few know; but in the history of Julia Brace, the deaf and blind mute of Boston, for whom the late Doctor Howe accomplished so much, occurs a striking example. In her blindness and stillness, Julia's main occupation was the exercise of her remaining senses of touch, taste, and smell. It was upon the last, we are told, that she seemed most to rely to obtain a knowledge of what was going on around her, and she came finally to perceive odors utterly insensible to other persons. When she met a person whom she had met before, she instantly recognized him by the odor of his hand or glove. If it was a stranger, she smelled his hand, and the impression remained so strong that she could recognize him long after by again smelling his hand, or even his glove, if he had just taken it off; and if, of half a dozen strangers, each one should throw his glove into a hat, she would take one, smell it, then smell the hand of each person, and unerringly assign each glove to its owner. She would pick out the gloves of a brother and sister by the similarity of odor, but could not distinguish between them. Similar cases might be produced, though hardly one of superior education in this respect; and in the light of it, it is not difficult to suppose that a sharp dog should be able to follow back a train of odors that he had experienced shortly before.
Friends worth knowing: glimpses of American natural history
By Ernest Ingersoll

The lilacs, once marking with purple fragrance the gateway where no longer do lovers linger; the stepping-stones, half-buried in myrtle run wild, that lead to the broken front entry; the degenerate tufts of ribbon-grass here and there battling for life against the myrtle and weeds and lilac sprouts; the unpruned tangle of roses whose haws show that each spring they strive to be ready to welcome again the hands that were wont to tend them—all are eloquent of the domestic scenes, that once vivified this abandoned homestead. None makes so sure of keeping his memory green as he who plants seeds in the kindly soil about the family doorstep.
The wit of the wild
By Ernest Ingersoll

The American song-sparrow is a peculiar lover of old fields where Nature is fast reasserting herself after the temporary rule of man. The tumbling, lichen-patched stone fences; the gray cattle-paths diverging from the muddy bar-way to those parts of the pasture where the grass is sweetest; the weedy banks of the sluggish brook winding indolently among mossy boulders and tangled thickets and patches of fragrant herbage—are all congenial to it, and are its chosen resort. Yet it is so common throughout most of the United States that you may find it almost anywhere—skulking about the currant and raspberry bushes in the village gardens; taking a riotous bath in some pool by the roadside, about whose rim, perhaps, the ice still lingers; hastening to the top of a forest-tree to plume its dripping feathers, and shake off at once the crystal water and a crystal song.
Friends worth knowing: glimpses of American natural history
By Ernest Ingersoll