winter scents

After Christmas we shall have some long cozy evenings and plenty of bright, up-to-date reading. Sometimes the soft cold flakes whirl over field and pasture, Sometimes the wind sobs and roars around the stanch old farmhouse. Then we run over to the neighbors for a treat, and spend a jolly two hours. Perhaps We play the host and they come to see us, well wrapped in warm shawls and Caps and hoods. We gather in the warm, low-ceiled kitchen, open the drafts in the stove and get out the molasses jug, a big heap of corn to shell and the visitors are pressed into service that many hands may lighten labor and make it play. Soon the yellow grains are hopping and whitening in their wire cage, in tune with laughter and banter. The smell of boiling molasses mingling With the fragrance of bursting corn fairly makes one's mouth water. Finally, Our corn balls and candy done, some simple games come next on our programme. Bye-and-bye we draw our chairs up to the stove and eat of the fruits of our labor.
The Rural New-Yorker, Volume 62-1903

But each winter a huge Christmas tree is set up in the church of the village I have mentioned, and loaded with presents. The winter I was there I went to see the distribution. Recollecting the delightful Christmas days of my own child— hood, I was anticipating great pleasure. Of course I was going to look in on a scene of childish joy, of shouting and laughing, and eating of candy and popcorn in unlimited quantities. Memories of the stories of Hans Andersen and the Grimm brothers were floating through my mind as I crunched the crisp snow under my feet on my way to the church. I remembered the rapture of those Christmas mornings at home, when we children stole down stairs by candlelight to the warm room filled with the aromatic perfume of the Christmas tree, that stood there resplendent with presents from old Santa Claus—Noah‘s arks, mimic landscapes, dolls, sleds, colored cornucopias bursting with bonbons, and especially those books of fairy~tales from whose rich creamy pages exhaled a most divine and musty fragrance. Ah, the memory of our childhood‘s hours! what is it but that enchanted lake of the Arabian tale, from whose quiet depths we are ever and anon drawing up in our nets some magic colored fish ?
McBride's Magazine, Volume 26-1880

The grain harvest of our little farm assured our subsistence, the wax and honey from the bees which one of my aunts cared for scrupulously was a revenue resulting from but small expense; the oil pressed from our nuts while they were still fresh, had a taste, a fragrance which we preferred to the taste and perfume of olive oil. Our buckwheat cakes (called in the speech of the country, tourtus), moist and smoking hot, with good Mont d'Or butter, we considered the most royal dainty. I know not what dishes could have seemed better to us than our radishes and chestnuts, and on winter evenings when these splendid radishes were broiling on the hearth or we heard the water boiling in the vessel in which these savory, sweet chestnuts were cooking, our hearts beat with happiness. I remember, too, the fragrance that a fine quince roasted beneath the ashes gave forth and the pleasure that our grandmother took in dividing it among us.
The Spirit of French Letters
 By Mabell Shippie Clarke Smith

Then there is the French market, where produce brought from St. Malo and other French ports is sold. In winter the air here is fragrant with the smell of roasted chestnuts. We see numbers of little charcoal roasters, presided over by their different owners. One of these is a fat Frenchwoman, who, as she watches the process of roasting, occasionally turns her chestnuts with the knife she holds in her hand. Her seat is an upturned barrel, while, beside her, she has her bag of chestnuts and her little stock of charcoal. There she sits during the day, and after dark she is still there, looking happy and contented, holding on her knee a large square lantern, and counting out her chestnuts to those happy boys who possess some stray coppers.
Milton Mount magazine, Volumes 8-11
 By Gravesend Milton Mount coll

So often, even in the deadest of winter time, a delicious whiff of sweetness comes from some plant or shrub, that it is well worth looking up the sweet smelling things and planting them together, the better to enjoy their perfume. There is one class of sweetness that seems rather to belong to late autumn and winter, of which the typical scent is that of dying Strawberry leaves, those of the alpine class being the best. The foliage of the great St. John's Wort smells very nearly like it, and a little yellowflowered Potentilla, a neat plant for carpeting bare ground, has just the same refreshing smell. It is rather a charming quality of these sweet scents that the}' seem to come when they will, and cannot be had for intentional sniffing.
The Garden: An Illustrated Weekly Journal of Horticulture in All ..., Volume 71

The Witch of Odors—Wood Smoke
How can I name the scents that I love?—
Earth around the roots of flowers,
A little child's sun-tinctured hair,
The dryad scent of a dawn with showers;
The homely odor of baking bread,
Which seems a scent and a symbol, too;
Apples with their imprisoned wine,
And raspberries drenched with dew.

I love the scent of a wild, wet rose,
The flower of the grape on a fitful breeze,
The smell of frost, and an in-shore sea;
But there is an odor yet better than these,
And that is the pungent, delicate tang
Of a magic thing we may all invoke,
That speaks of shore and forest and hearth.
The witch of odors—wood smoke.
When the East awakes and wakens me
To summer's green or winter's snows,
First comes the greeting to my eyes,
And then the challenge to my nose.
I hardly know which I love best—
Slant sunlight through the long-leaved pine,
Or the smell of smoke from my neighbor's fires,
The delicious tang from mine.

Before I can remember, and during this period of changing from the old ways to the new, my parents had removed to the farm, half a mile beyond the cannonhouse, that was the northern limit of the village. I was a favorite of my greatgrandmother and of my Aunt Mary Ann, and quite my earliest recollections are of the house where I was born. It was screened from the road by a row of Lombardy poplars growing within the dooryard fence. It was from the tender sprouts of these trees that “big men” made me whistles with a fragrant, bitter smell and a slightly bitter taste, which, however, never lessened my delight in blowing the whistles. How well I remember the peculiar, pungent odor of the poplar whip, which was the new growth, as the big man girdled and tapped the bark with his jackknife until it slid off the sappy wood and slid back again a whistle!
Of my five senses, as I recall conditions at that early period, I believe that my sense of smell was the keenest, for it is the vivid recollection of the odor of things that appeals first to my memory. My great-grandmother's place was a bouquet of pungent smells, and is still a bouquet in my memory that has not yet lost its distinguishing odors. There was the “black apple-tree” in the first row of the orchard, the purple-red fruit of which, lying in the warm grass, had a spicy, sweet smell that drew the wasps and the bees until its shade was a danger zone; and equally distinctive was the fragrance of the harvest apples that fell from the tree with the sloping trunk at the corner of the orchard. My aunt's flower-beds of dahlias and marigolds and poppies had a medicinal smell. The woodhouse chamber, where I played with wooden clock-wheels made fast to discarded dials, had a smell of its own, fascinating, but quite indescribable.
There were a dark closet under the hall stairs where the hickory nuts were kept, together with the round lap-stone on which my aunt cracked them, and the closed parlor where my grandmother kept the platter of molasses candy, made with her own hands, and the living-room, in the winter, with my aunt's geraniums in the windows —all rooms that I remember through my nOSe.
The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, Volume 97
 edited by Josiah Gilbert Holland, Richard Watson Gilder
The remaining four and twenty young ladies mustered in the dining room, and were there marshalled into church-going order. Some were fair, and some were dark: some were tall, and some were short: some were considered plain looking, while some were budding beauties. But they all looked pleased and happy and bore on their faces a sort of trade-mark with the motto, "Educated at Friar Bank." What odd dresses these young ladies wore! Great open-faced bonnets, locally called "ruskies" and made of fine leghorn or coarse plaited straw. In winter they had each a cloak thrown over their shortwaisted dresses with "gigot of mutton sleeves," white stockings, and shoes with the long ends of the laces twisted neatly round the ankles. Each young lady carried a small Bible wrapped in a neatly-folded white handkerchief, with a sprig of balm or "southern-wood," the fragrance from which was designed to keep drowsiness away in church. Peppermint drops, however, were the special favourites, and it was calculated that there must have been at least a pound and a half of these confections consumed every Sunday in the Friar Bank pews during divine service.
The Border Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly, Volume 1
 edited by Nicholas Dickson, William Sanderson

LET no one lay to his soul the comfortable thought, as he turns from his garden in the late fall toward the stone and iron city, that a garden amounts to precious little in winter, and that he will miss nothing pleasant in deserting the familiar ways. That, truth to tell, it will be but dank and dreary and the wind never still, and that to tread the snow-encumbered paths were the forlornest method of insuring a smart attack of the grippe.
Let him go. Duty calls, perhaps. But let his departure be miserable, a tearing of the heartstrings. For a garden in winter is a lovely thing, a place of radiant surprises, an exquisite harmony of the most delicate color tones, and a revelation of the superb drawing of tree and shrub, the marvel of their intricate design, the power and spring of their branches, and the wonderful shadows they throw. Far into December the garden is still green, for the honeysuckles will not let loose their leaves, and many a strong perennial keeps its vigor undaunted. The wise planter, also, sees to it that certain bushes with crimson or golden twigs, and others with ivory or scarlet berries, shall burn in a chill fervor the winter through. A holly hedge is finest in cold weather, its glossy leaves and glowing berries all the richer for the half-shrouding snow; while arbor vitae spreads its frondy branches with all of summer's energy, still yielding a pungent perfume as you crush the stiff leaflets between your fingers.
The Lure of the Garden
 By Hildegarde Hawthorne

One of our favourite shrubs, which we grow in a wet peat bed, is Myrica gale the sweet gale (or box myrtle), a native of Britain, and quite hardy. This is more deliciously scented than any myrtle, and the best of all vegetable products to place in drawers with clothing, to render them delightfully perfumed. When nearing this plant during a garden ramble, the nose is informed of its proximity to a source of a most refreshing and agreeable spicy odour, and a twig of the plant broken off at any time, winter or summer, will retain its fragrance for months, if kept inclosed in a book or between folds of linen. Hung up anywhere in a room, it will diffuse its sweet odour for weeks together in the atmosphere; and, as the plants grow freely, it only needs to be cut at judiciously, and it will supply twigs all the year round for any purpose for which its fragrance may be required. This plant is plentiful on the dreary wastes of Dartmoor, where the red pebbly heath soil seems to suit it admirably. It will grow anywhere with hardy heaths and rhododendrons, and when bearing catkins is an interesting though not a beautiful object. When the sweet gale is boiled, a wax rises to the surface of the water, which, if collected and made into candles, emit the same spicy fragrance while burning.
The Floral World and Garden Guide, Volume 8
 By Shirley Hibberd

The scent of the thaw precedes the actual process. I should think that the snow must soon be swept away, by the flavor of the air, which tastes of the leaven of spring distributed through the wintry mass. And yet the spring is still far distant.
Sap flowing, resinous bark, breathing buds, all are suggested in the fragrant draught of the moist air. In years gone I have been much puzzled to trace to its origin this compound perfume sprinkled upon the keen breath of winter. I have at last tracked it to its source in the evergreens. Though the fragrance is to be noticed at other seasons, it is never so marked as in the winter time. Is it possible that the odor is enhanced by the shedding of the leaves, now going on? There was a touch of extra refinement to-day when, as I passed under their swinging boughs, the old fir-trees shed the breath of the hyacinth upon my path.
The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 73

But an open fire is a poem of subtle elemental fascination, writ in lambent lines of flame. It is a spectacle, an entertainment, a moving-picture show, a vision which "decomposes but to recompose," a song without words, a piece of woodland music improvised by some invisible dryad. "When old Robert draws the back-brand in, the green logs steam and spit," and we listen to one of Nature's lyrics in
The crooning of the blithe wood-flame—
A single bar of music fraught
With cheerful, yet half pensive thought—
A thought elusive; out of reach,
Yet trembling on the verge of speech.
An odoriferous delight also is the open fire when the right sort of wood
is burning.
The oozing pine logs flame and flare,
Wafting the perfume of their native woods;
and in the wood-smell is some opiate vapor which gives delicious dreams without somnolence. Spruce, which is fragrant with resinous aroma, is also the liveliest of woods, often making a miniature Fourth of July on the hearth with its snapping and crackling and popping fireworks.
The Methodist Review, Volume 95

Even in midwinter, when a warm time comes, and the snow melts. and the ground is thoroughly thawed, there are woodsy odors borne about by the drowsy winds. In fact, the fragrance of January is sweeter and more subtly elusive than that of May. Go nibble the brown, pointed buds of the beech tree in midwinter, and you will find how well the individuality of the tree is condensed in those laminated little spikes. You taste the perfume of tassels and the fragrance of young leaves, — there is an aromatic hint of coming nuts. You may almost taste the songs of the spring birds! \Vhat words these buds are! How prophetic! We bite them, and, lo! the spring rises in a vision! Its poem is read in advance.
I recollect a clear fountain of cold water around which grew festoons of cress and mint. I had been chasing the wild things all the morning, as a true huntsman will, and now I was tired and thirsty. At such a time what could be more welcome than mint and water? How soothing the fragrant flavor and the cooling draught! Then came the biting spiciness of the cress, to reinvigorate my nerve withal. Out of my pouch I drew a cake of maple sugar, and feasted like a god.
\Vhen winter begins to come on, the nuts come too. I cannot understand the taste of those who do not like the rich, oily kernels of the butternut, the hickory nut, and the sweet acorns of the pin oak. Squirrels know which side of a nut is buttered. They have long ago learned that it is the inside. From Florida to Michigan one may run the gamut of nuts, beginning with the lily-nuts, or water chinquepins. and running up to the great black-walnut, including every shade of flavor and fatness. They are all good. They were made to eat in the open air; and he who takes them, as the squirrels do, after vigorous exercise in the woods, will find great comfort in them. I cannot rank the artist or poet very high whose stomach is too aristocratic for wild berries, nuts, and aromatic bark. I fear that such an one has long since allowed that trace of savage vigor, which made him of kin to Pan and Apollo, to slip away and be lost. Shall we doubt that Burns got his sweet strength and freshness, in a great measure, out of the cool, fragrant loam his
ploughshare turned? The gracious ways of nature are so simple and so manifold. She gives up to us by such subtle vehicles of conveyance the precious essences of sug
gestion. She draws us back from overculture to renew our virility with her simples. She gives us dew instead of
philosophy, perfumes instead of science, flowers in place of art, fruit in lieu of lectures, and nuts instead of sermons.
Outing; Sport, Adventure, Travel, Fiction, Volume 5

In October, our thoughts are concentrated on the wealth of color. We hear no more birds, we gather no more fragrant flowers. Yet if some day we should lose the cool. slight breath of the
gorgeous leaves in our hands, or the fragrance of those we are treading upon, we should certainly miss the final charm of our ramble, though we might not know why; for this beauty of the old age of the year is as ethereal and impalpable as that of the spring-time.
The snow falls, and covers up the earth for its winter slumber. But we know one gentle secret. We know the
delicious scent of some of the dripping sphagnums in the deep woods during the happy days of a January thaw. Even in winter we have glad moments, when we are “lord of our senses five.”
So the year marches on in its eternal round, and from January to Janu
ary again
Fragrance in its footing treads.
The Atlantic, Volume 60

The pitch-pine mother trees have completed their preserving and now sit back and radiate perfume in satisfaction and
kindly good will toward the whole world, for this slightly resinous sweetness does not come at all from the pitch-covered buds on the branch tips as I first thought. It seems to emanate from the whole tree. Cut a branch and take it home with you. Strip leaves and buds from it if you will; then smell the wood. It is there. But more than from anywhere else it seems to come from the mature leaves, — those which have borne the burden and the heat of the summer, and now are losing their rich green in a ripening which befits maturity and work well done.
All the evergreens take on this slight tendency to a mellow yellow as the autumn waxes. It is due, no doubt, to the lessening of the sap in the leaves. All winter they will hold it, and when the joy of spring sends his lifeblood bounding back again, it will fade and leave them
vigorously green once more.
Wood Wanderings
 By Winthrop Packard
Crossing the glade again on my homeward way I plucked branches of juniper so thickly studded with blue berries that there seemed scarcely room for the scalypointed leaves, and in so doing I stumbled upon the real secret of the dainty odor left by the goddess and her train. For the matured shoots and leaves of the juniper give off a fragrance that is as much more dainty than that of the pitch pine as that is more dainty than the strongly resinous odor of the white pine when cut or bruised.
Cytherea must have smiled upon the humbler juniper as she passed, and the dwarfed and stunted shrub must have caught the warmth of her eyes full in the heart, for it sits snug as the days shorten and radiates a happiness that is perfume, and sends the thought of the goddess to all who pass that way. The stronger odor of the pitch pine carries it far on the soft south wind across the glade and down the path through the pasture, but this is only the vehicle. The dainty essence of perfume which stops you as if a soft hand fell upon your arm floats from the loving heart of the rough and lowly juniper.Wood Wanderings
 By Winthrop Packard
This night on which the horned owl of Pigeon Swamp brooded her eggs so carefully was lighted by the moon, but toward midnight a purple blackness grew up all about the still sky and blotted out all things in a velvety smear that sent even Bubo to perch beside his mate. There was then no breath of wind. The faint air from the north that had brought thedeep chill had faltered and died, leaving its temperature behind it over all the fields and forest. The air stung and the ground rang like tempered steel beneath the foot, yet you had but to listen or breathe deep to know what was coming. The stroke of twelve from the distant steeple brought a resonance of romance along the clear miles and the air left in your nostrils a quality that never winter air had a right to hold. To one who knows the temper of the open field and the forest by day and night the promise was unmistakable, though so subtle as to be difficult to define. Whether it was sound or smell or both I knew then that a south wind was coming, bearing on its balmy breath those spicy, amorous odors of the tropics that come to our frozen land only when spring is on the way. The goddess scatters perfumes from her garments as she comes and the south wind catches them and bears them to us in advance of her footsteps. You may sniff these same odors of March far offshore along the West Indies, — spicy, intoxicating scents, borne from the hearts of tropic wild-flowers and floating off to sea on every breeze.
Woodland Paths
 By Winthrop Packard