winter scents

Kingsley's Winter Garden is at the present moment just what it was when he drew rein and slowly wandered on beneath the lofty roof of the ever-fragrant pine wood, with the creaking of the saddle and the soft footfall of the mare upon the fir-needles jarring upon his ears. He calls this "ugly, straight-edged, monotonous fir plantation," into which he leaps over the furze bank, his Cathedral (how like him to interject "wherein if there be no saints there are likewise no priestcraft and no idols !").
It is glibly said sometimes that we in the old country have lost the art of the lighter and more popular form of essay writing, and bequeathed it to the Hawthorns, Emersons, Russell Lowells, and Dudley Warners of the New World. What, then, is this which Kingsley has in his Winter Garden ?—
"Endless vistas of smooth red, green-veined shafts holding up the warm dark roof, lessening away into endless gloom, paved with rich brown fir-needle, a carpet at which Nature has been at work for forty years. Red shafts, green roof, and here and there a pane of blue sky—neither Owen Jones nor Willement can improve upon that ecclesiastical ornamentation—while for incense I have the fresh healthy turpentine fragrance, far sweeter to my nostrils than the stifling narcotic odour which fills a Roman Catholic Cathedral. There is not a breath of air within, but the breeze sighs over the roof above in a soft whisper. I shut my eyes and listen. Surely that is the murmur of the summer sea upon the summer sands in Devon, far away! I hear the innumerable wavelets spend themselves gently upon the shore and die away to rise again. It has two notes, two keys rather; that Eolian harp of fir-needles above my head, according as the wind is east or west, the needles wet or dry. .....By Stream and Sea: A Book for Wanderers and Anglers
 By William Senior
The breeze is gone awhile; and I am in perfect silence, a silence which may be heard. Not a sound; and not a moving object; absolutely none. The absence of animal life is solemn, startling. That ring-dove, who was cooing half-a-mile away, has hushed his moan ; that flock of long-tailed titmice, which were twinging and pecking about the fir-cones a few minutes since, are gone; and now there is not even a gnat to quiver in the slant sun rays. Did a spider run over those dead leaves, I almost fancy I could hear his footfall. The creaking of the saddle, the soft footfall of the mare upon the fir-needles, jar my ears. I seem alone in a dead world. A dead world: and yet so full of life, if I had eyes to see! Above my head every fir-needle is breathing, breathing, forever, and currents unnumbered circulate in every bough, quickened by some undiscovered miracle; around me every firstem is distilling strange juices, which no laboratory of man can make; and where my dull eye sees only death, the eye of God sees boundless life and motion, health and use.
Slowly I wander on beneath the warm roof of the winter-garden, and meditate upon that one word—Life; and specially on all that Mr. Lewes has written so well thereon of late —for instance
“ We may consider Life itself as an ever increasing identification with Nature. The simple cell, from which the plant or animal arises, must draw light and heat from the sun, nutriment from the surrounding world, or else it will remain quiescent, not alive, though latent with life; as the grains in the Egyptian tombs, which after lying thousands of years in those sepulchres, are placed in the earth, and smile forth as golden wheat. What we call growth, is it not a perpetual absorption of Nature, the identification of the individual with the universe? And may we not, in speculative moods, consider Death as the grand im )atience of the soul to free itself from the circ e of individual activity -—the yearning of the creature to be united with the Creator?"
Living Age ..., Volume 57

Of all fragrant herbs rosemary and lavender hold perhaps the foremost place, but of the former how little real use is made! How many people know the taste of rosemary wine or rosemary cordial? In the French language of flowers rosemary represents the power of rekindling lost energy, and in olden days it was held in the highest repute for its invigorating effects both as a scent and a cordial. The name rosemary means " dew of the sea," and the plant which grows naturally near the sea always has the smell of it. What is more beautiful in winter than its glistening grey-green foliage and delicious fragrance? One rarely sees a large bunch of its graceful long stems as a decoration in a room, but what a joy it is when one does! Formerly the aromatic scent of the plant was highly valued for its protective power against infection. It was carried at funerals, burnt in sick rooms, used in spells to ward off black magic, and for festival days in churches; and banqueting halls and ordinary living-rooms were lavishly decorated with long boughs of it. An old French name for rosemary is incensier, because it was so often used instead of incense when the latter was too costly. In the British Museum there is an interesting old MS. on the virtues of rosemary, which was sent by the Countess of Hainault to her daughter, Queen Philippa of England. In it one reads of rosemary, "it mighteth the boones and causeth goode and gladeth and lighteth alle men that use it. The leves layde under the heade whanne a man slepes, it doth away evell spirites and suffereth not to dreeme fowle dremes ne to be afeade. But he must be out of deedely synne for it is an holy tree.
A Garden of Herbs: Being a Practical Handbook to the Making of an Old ...
 By Eleanour Sinclair Rohde

Yet, even at this time of the year, the garden is not absolutely forsaken of leaves and blossoms, for God has given us winter flowers, and, like those cheering hopes of future joy, which spring up in the heart at the bidding of our heavenly Father, during the season of gloom, they smile even on darkest days, and give assurance of fulness and beauty, such as we should deem impossible if we looked only on the present appearances of earth and sky. The buds gradually increase in number, and grow larger on the branches of the trees. The evergreens, with their many dark green leaves, or with their lighter hue, like the laurel, reflect, on their shining surfaces, the noonday sunbeams, and the laumstinns and the rosemary bring their flowers to form the winter nosegay.
There is a sweet fragrance in the rosemary. So thought our forefathers when they used it at table, and infused it in their ale. George Herbert considered it a good addition to cookery, for while he says that the country parson should be well skilled in the knowledge of plants, he recommends this and other herbs. "As for spices," says he, " the parson doth not only prefer this and other homebred things before them, but condemns them for vanities, and so shuts them out of his family, esteeming that there is no spice comparable for herbs, to rosemary, thyme, savory, and mint; and for seeds, to fennel and carraway seeds." The troubadours, too, prized the winter fragrance of the rosemary, and regarded both this flower and the violet as emblems of constancy. In many parts of Germany it is still grown in large pots, that small sprigs of it may be sold during winter and the commencement of spring, as it is used there for some religious ceremonies.
The garden flowers of the year
 By Garden flowers
Winter is not the season for odours, and few breathe their sweetness in the frosty air; but there is one plant in flower, which is so powerfully fragrant as to fill a small garden •with its perfume. This is the scented colt'sfoot, (Tussilago fragrans.) Its stem rises but a little height from the ground, and it has many and large leaves. If the growth be not restrained, it sends out so many young suckers from its root, that it will cover the garden and overrun the more delicate flowers. The blossoms are white, and their scent is like that of almonds. It is very abundant on some lands of Italy, and flowers in that lovely climate during the winter months.
The garden flowers of the year
 By Garden flowers
In our garden, according to the custom of the time, four beds were given to herbs useful in cooking or for simple household remedies. There was balm, soft and comfortable in aspect as in name; sage, with pretty blue-green leaves, and ragged blue blossoms; thoroughwort or boneset, used for colds, and as a spring tonic; wormwood, pennyroyal, and saffron, the latter always associated in my mind with measles. One bed was filled with small herbs, such as chives, mint, thyme, summer savory, and parsley; another, with something we called pot-marjoram, probably sweet marjoram. Over this bed, in the blossoming season, the bees and the butterflies hovered continually. When a child, I was afraid of the bees at first; but I found that if I did not molest them, they had no desire to disturb me, and their busy humming soon came to have a cheerful, sociable sound. The distinctive odors of these herbs come back to me now, just as they exhaled in dewy mornings or under the noontide sun. I remember, too, the look and smell of each, when, dried and tied in bunches, ready for winter use, they hung under the rafters of a dark garret .The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 103

Winter is indeed a rare artificer: there is not a leaf, or a blade, or growing spray or mass of plant-forms that he does not take pains to transfigure almost out of all knowledge. This is surely the apotheosis, the magic hour of every humble unblossomed herb and green thing the garden grows. Spring and summer may bring no largesse for these, autumn no splendid stains and dyes; but here is winter, another King Cophetua, one might say, scattering his jewels broadcast with so royal a bounty that each unconsidered twig, each sober leaf of evergreen, is clothed with glories as great as, or greater, than the rose. Where there is already, as in the clustered ivy or Portugal laurel, a fine grace of outline and of form, it is intensified and made manifest a thousandfold; while, so marvellous is this pure wealth of pearl and crystal set against the sun's clear gold, that it obliterates imperfection and exalts the commonplace. The scentless yellow jasmine trails upon the trellis like frosted amber, the dark leaves of the hellebore gleam all bediamonded about their pale roses. As I pass my herb-plot's bejewelled tangle, forgotten and left to wildness in the press of other work, I cannot find it in my heart to repent my omission, for had it been properly "redd up" and set in due order I must needs have missed this faint, sweet incense, the ghost of a perfume, that breathes from it to-day. How and why I know not, but some mysterious alchemy of sun and snow has drawn forth a fragrance of myrrh and thyme commingled, that sets you thinking of Solomon's Song and the beds of spices when the wind blew from Lebanon.
The Heart of a Garden
 By Rosamund Marriott Watson
 Yet to one rightly constituted, as I have said, the garden even now has much delight to offer. Berries are red on the trees, holly and hip and haw, the sweetbriar and the eglantine. Such a wealth of berries, as of acorns on the oaks, would seem to promise a severe winter, or at least a white Christmas. "If St. Michael," runs the old saw, "brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow." St. Michael's Day has come and gone, a splendid festival of warmth and colour, but St. Michael's threat remains. These last few weeks have witnessed the harvest of my apples and pears. The long narrow shelves of the fruit-loft are full of beaming, ruddy apples and pears of many colours, from the bronze Calabash to the lemon-green Marie Louise. The trees, alas! are despoiled of all their beauty; the fruit that shone dully in the sun is gone, and now the leaves also are falling; but abroad in the fruit-chamber is a delicious fragrance, fit for the senses of the gods, a bouquet of incommunicable odours. I have also caused my walnut-trees to be beaten, and they have yielded meekly but shyly to the rod. The sward below is bestrewn with the scattered shards and husks of the green and ebon envelopes, but the nuts are stored in safety, and I have buried some in a shallow pit against Christmas, the Yule fire, and the old Madeira. For some years I have tried this experiment, and have usually found that a fair proportion of the nuts are kept fresh and moist and sweet; their ivory, wing-like kernels parting easily from the amber-coloured leathern glove. Certain it is that the nut dried and stored is apt to shrivel or decay far sooner than that which is left in the keeping of the earth—to the treatment, so to speak, of Nature. I cannot find it in my heart to "cut down " too ruthlessly or too early. The bracken still sprawls in my wilderness, turning to russet and dim gold; while even the scarlet-runners in the kitchen garden are still running, though not so freely as of old, and the red flowers top the tall sticks on which they have been supported throughout the summer. Faithful indeed is the scarlet-runner for use and beauty, faithful unto death.
The Heart of a Garden
 By Rosamund Marriott Watson
A Rose-jar.—The rose-jars of our grandmothers' time are again popular; during the past winter, as we have entered cozy parlors, the subtile fragrance of the rose has greeted us when snow was whitening the ground outside. A good-sized bowl or jar that is decorative may be used for our purpose. Gather any sweet rose-leaves on a fine dry day, put them in a large jar, and throw a little table-salt to every layer of rose-leaves. When the jar is nearly full, add two bandfulseach of rosemary-leaves, lavender-flowers, and knotted marjoram ; also a few bay-leaves, one ounce of sliced orris-root, one ounce each of cloves, cinnamon, gumbenjamin, with a quarter of a pound of bay-salt, pounded. Mix, and cover the bowl closely for one week, when you will fiud a delicate and lasting scent on opening the jar.
A simpler but less effective way is to mix the leaves with salt and a little cloves, cinnamon, and gum - benjamin; cover closely.
We know a little girl who made a nice rose-jar by taking a bunch of fragrant roses, which had been discarded as too wilted for use, and mixing the leaves with salt and allspice only.
Peterson's Magazine, Volumes 95-96

WERE you so fortunate as to be W born in a small town? Were you so fortunate as to be born long enough ago to remember the big gypsy kettle in the back yard, the gypsy fire underneath, the novel outdoor cookery, the long wooden stirrer, the barrel of cider against the fence, that tantalizing, luscious, spicy, fruity odor, then, in the golden, frosty twilight, the finishedclear, product—the product that the winter long was to form a welcome part of the daily fare, and daily was to call forth that pleasant autumn picture?
Can’t you see it now? Can’t you smell that wood smoke, see the blue haze encircling the mammoth kettle? And don’t you wish you could taste real apple butter once again, compounded of smoke and eager young response as _well as of the tangible ingredients? But apart from the sentiment of the thing, how good and wholesome it was, how worthy a place in the daily fare. The carefully prepared apples, the fresh cider, the artful mixing of spices, the right sweetening, this American dish has no superior, I trow, anywhere in the world.
The day the wonderful barrel was hoisted on its support in the back yard did you not, now and then, slyly stroll over in the vicinity thereof with a chosen friend or two, stand watchful of the dripping bung, presently boldly toy with the spigot, though all the time fearful you might not be successful in turning it off and might occasion the loss of the precious vintage—and the more precious apple butter? But who could forego quenching one’s thirst with new cider, especially when standing close to a drippin bung? '
Did they let you take part in that great paring of the evening before, family and neighborly helpers gathered in the big kitchen where, amid quip and gossip, they deftly pared and cored and quartered until a tub, shiningly clean, was well filled with the fragrant fruit? Fingers got shrunken and stained in the labor, but that just showed apple-butter time had come; with these living in a small town, the ceremonial of the year.
Maybe they let you stir the precious stuff after the sweetening was in and the mixture must be watched every instant to keep it from burning. A proud, responsible, happy trust, the fortunes of the family—at least the winter well-being—dependent on your devotedness to this duty. You scraped the sides, you sounded the bottom, you stood over the seething mass until your arms ached, your legs wobbled, your eyes burned, your cheeks smarted. Presently relief came; mother approached with saucer and wooden spoon to test the contents of the kettle. No, not thick enough yet; must boil down more. So the post of stirrer becomes one that tests endurance to the utmost, that requires shifts of workers. When the next watch comes to your relief, burned, benumbed, you seek a sunny “lair of grass” where you can lie relaxed, and, without the drawback of aching muscles, enjoy the delectable odor commingled of brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, “rhambos,” and cider.
In apple butter East and West meet; the spices from the Orient are called to add their tang to the harvest gathered from trees growing on Ohio hillsides, to the fruit and to the juice of the fruit. As the mixture thickens and darkens to the point where it is pronounced “done,” the air, too, grows thicker and sweeter with the perfume from hot spices, the whole neighborhood learns that the Blanks are “making their apple butter”; have arrived at their ceremonial. ‘ .
Dusk, and at last the apple butter is done, is ready to be put into the jars. “Crocks,” you called them, and they stood  there in array; big ones, middle-sized ones, and little ones. When filled they were neatly covered, then carried to the cellar and placed arow on a shelf devoted to their sole use. The shelf the winter through yielded the welcome “sauce” craved in that period before fresh fruit from the tropics had become a commonplace, before bananas, oranges, and grapefruit were in daily use in the average household. Scribner's Magazine ..., Volume 66

It would do yer hart good, though, to look through my barn an' cellar, an' see all ther stuff I hev laid in fer winter, — a big heap of golden pumkins fer Betsey to make pies of, bushels of turnips, cabbages, an' potaters, besides pop-corn an' walnuts to while away ther long winter evenin's. It warn't much of an apple year, but I helped Si Atkins gather his an' make cider, so we divided. I've got a few barrels of Baldwins an' russets (that make fair eatin') an' sev'ral casks of cider — Betsey hes doctored one up, so t'will be sweet all winter.
Now she is presarvin' ev'ry day, so yer can smell spices an' grape-juice within forty rods of ther house. Mother Mason comes over an' carries off three jars, at least, of ev'rything she does up.
Uncle Jed's Country Letters
 By Hilda Brenton

 All winter there were some good smells—the odor of far-off forest fires; the fragrance of fresh-cut logs; the not unpleasing, pungent scent of Blake's cow stable, that came over the ice to me on the crisp, frosty air, but now there is a very riot of perfume. The rotting leaves, the barks of trees, the swamps and even the rocks themselves, give forth an incense. The poplars and the birches shake out sweetness from their waving tassels, the new green fringes of the evergreens are fragrant, soon will come the odors from wild cherry, basswood, and wild grape in flower, and the scents of the new ferns, and then I shall go quite wild with delight and shall long to shout my joy to heaven, as Rufus, the red squirrel, is doing now. Far out on a birch limb, in the sun, he is clucking and chirping away, his plumy tail waving, his whole little tense, rust-colored body jerking as he gives tongue to his spring ecstasy.A Winter of Content
 By Laura Lee Davidson

Meanwhile, uncle Will would come in from the barn where he had been directing operations — for there were three or four men at work on the farm, summer and winter — and stamping the snow from his boots, would give one of his jovial, cheery laughs, as the children set up an indiscriminate clamor for "A story ! a story!" Where he ever learned so many, or found time to make them up, I'm sure I don't know; but no boy or girl ever asked for one in real earnest, and was disappointed. True and make-believe, funny and pathetic, the stories flowed on in rapid succession; the pinecones and knots snapping and crackling meanwhile, and throwing out flames and little saucy puffs of fragrant smoke, so that the children came to call the stories that were thus told around the fire, "pine cone stories."
Pine Cones
 By Willis Boyd Allen
Outside the sheds the Pilgrims build huge fires of cones, fragrant pine cones, which abound in the lower forests. How brightly they burn, seemingly serving in their brown, shriveled, wizened, crackly persons all the sap, all the vitality of the great mother pine trees! When the spark from the flint touches a pile of them, they flare like tinder, briskly eager to burn at once. The little flames curl around each cone, outline each section, with a fiery line, creep their way to the noisy hearts of each, and then burst out in a laughing crackle to jump to the next. A strong, pungent, resinous smell blows off with the
smoke; the pile becomes a glowing mass with the shape of each individual cone intact. Then it fades from flame to pink, rose pink, rose, but still foreshadowing ashes. The edges curl over ever so little, and the grey that the eye prophesied creeps along them like a silver ribbon. Yet all the while the pile remains in a perfect shape, in the original form that the pilgrims chose, a pointed, a round, or a square figure. Sometimes the imaginative choose to lay their fires in the shape of Japanese characters. They build, with innate poetic instinct, some sentence from the classic, some dainty axiom of philosophy, then watch it blazon itself out in gold. Then wider and wider the gray brands grow, the pinks melt into tints of amethyst and opal. Ethereal and ghostly the cones stand out, till finally like some old skeleton when the air rushes in upon It, they crumble away together. All in a moment they totter, they vanish, with the first breath of the breeze, these tremulous gray shapes, quivering as if they were alive.
The Overland Monthly, Volume 43

Our pines are our trees of winter, green amid the snows, green even when shining with the coating of ice that makes of every little twig a jewel, and converts the rough, brown bark into a glittering coat of mail. As we look from our cheerful fire of pine cones, where the spirit of the tree seems to glow bright before its departure, to the stately tree itself just outside the window, the moon peeping between its branches, we realize how largely our pine ministers to the comfort, as well as to the poetry, of our lives. And not only in winter does it make its appeal. The dainty mayflowers of spring seem never so dainty as when their delicate beauty is sheltered by a spreading pine, and thrown into relief by the brown pine needles which half conceal them; and in the grateful shade they linger even into the summer heats mingling their sweet perfume with the spicy breath of the pine itself, as if thanking the old tree for its protecting presence.
Strength, beauty, fragrance, music, shelter, our pine is truly a friendly tree, and a kindly medium through which to send our New Year's greetings.
Pine Tree Magazine, Volume 6


Do you remember, Tom, my boy!
Near forty years ago,
A frosty, star gemmed Christmas Eve—
The ground all white with snow!
Like shooting stars down Pelham street
We coasted on a sled—
You wore a dogs eared coon skin cap,
And mine was worsted red;
You jammed your old blue mitten down
Your pocket, and with glee
Showed me your tender mother's gift—
A four pence ha'penny.
1 had three coppers old and brown,
And so with slide and hop,
We went through Spring street on the run
To Polly Tilley's Shop!

Alack a day! that times should change,
As years go coasting down,
For Christmas Eve comes just the same
To Newport's olden town,—
The sweet bells ring, the children sing,
The windows smile with light,
And Bethlehem's diamond star is there,
Upon the breast of night.
A boy comes dashing down the hill,
Upon his painted sled,
But you and I are at the foot;
And Polly Tilley's dead!

I see it now, the little shop,—
So queer and old and quaint,
The iron latch, where eager hands
Had rubbed off all the paint;
The door, with glass in upper half,
That jarred and rang a bell; 
The little counter with a rail,
That we remember well;
lt was as bright as holly leaves,
And on its dainty top,
The golden candy rested sweet
In Polly Tilley's Shop!

There peppermint and sassafras
And fragrant wintergreen,
And lemon, with a tawny stripe,
Deliciously were seen;
ln shallow pans of unctuous tin,
Worked with the tenderest care,
Molasses Candy's flaxen links
Gleamed like Godiva's hair.
Oh! Tom, this dizzy chase for fame
And gold, we'd better drop:
While memory points, with lingering love,
To Polly Tilley's Shop!

The little shelves were filled with bowls
Of herbs, and all the ills,
That Godfrey's Cordial left, were cured
By Dean's Rheumatic Pills;
Some huckleberries bathed in gin,
And other doctor's stuff—
With two fat Quaker colored jars
Of Scotch and yellow snuff.
A modest case, of brass knobbed drawers
"All decked in living green," Were labelled Nutmegs, Cloves, and Spice,
Too precious to be seen.
And when the bell began to ring,
Out Betsey Stanley'd pop,
With clean checked apron to attend
On Polly Tilley's Shop!

Perhaps a skillful hand might glean
From memory's golden sheaves,
Some fairer pictures to adorn
The pleasant winter eves;
But there is nothing left on earth
To ring on Christmas chimes—
Like the clear, crystal, silvery notes,
Of childhood's blessed times. 
But Fame's long hill is very steep,
We stagger toward the top, 
And every step but leave behind Good Polly Tilley's Shop!