Posted in food, human nature, Mothers, Nature


I’ve been thinking about aromas.

When I was in college, the popular scent was patchouli. You could smell it in classrooms, dorms, practice rooms, the library…pretty much everywhere. I could never understand why women liked it. To me, it smelled like dirt. And not that fresh soil smell that rises into the air after a summer rain, promising the emergence of a range floral essences. No, patchouli was more on the order of earth worms to me, amassing on every pathway after a storm, making each step a challenge to avoid a nasty squish underfoot.


My mother wore Shalimar. It mixed with her chemistry in a way that made her smell like warm cookies—heady with vanilla and something other…exotic. Every so often, when I was out with her, I’d catch someone behind her sniffing and I’d smile, imagining them running off to a nearby bakery to nourish themselves with that fragrance, fill the need it aroused.


In the natural world, there are fragrances that evoke the same response.

Honeysuckle is one of them. It grew in abundance where I lived, and I used to pick the white blooms and suck the nectar from them. No one ever told me not to. I doubt I would have listened if they did. It was one of the pleasures of childhood, being lured by their scent, knowing the rewards they’d deliver.

The other is clover, which is flourishing this year.

I’m a simple person at heart, I think. Over the years I’ve sampled all forms of honey—wildflower, acacia, blueberry, orange blossom, but I keep going back to clover honey. I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me that the elusive fragrance I have caught on so many walks might be emanating from those small white and pink blossoms…

…until yesterday, when the scent was so overwhelming I had to stop and inhale—a true singer’s breath, the kind I learned to take before a long demanding phrase—and close my eyes, to draw it into my spirit as well as my lungs. When I opened them again, and looked down, I saw the grass overgrown with flowers, and picked one. And sniffed.

And I was so very hungry.

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Listening. Observing.

11 thoughts on “Hunger

  1. Smells can bring back such magical memories. Can’t say I was a big fan of patchouli, but other aromas like alyssum can take me back home. Mom always planted the white and purple ones. One of the local churches here has it in their flower beds. When I walk from the post office to the library, I treasure the smell that these little flowers put out. ~nan


  2. Your piece really speaks to me. Apart from being exquisitely written, it brings back my own childhood memories of picking honeysuckle and sucking the sweet, fragrant nectar! Smell isn’t one of my strongest senses, or at least wasn’t until I began to meditate and practise QiGong and now I’m discovering a whole new world dimension that had been in the background.
    I used to by Cabochard, by Grès – I liked slightly bitter scents. My mother used it faithfully, and as a teenager I began to help myself to her bottle of eau de toilette. Then, as an adult, I used Chanel No. 5 for a time. For the past few years, I’ve adopted a rose perfume from l’Occitane.
    One of my all-favourite scents is rosemary. I have a couple of bushes on our balcony and I love running my fingers through them then bringing them up to my nose. I also love the fragrance of linden trees…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so nice to hear from another fan of honeysuckle nectar! I haven’t tasted it since childhood, but can still remember the flavor. I’ll have to check out the perfumes you mention. I also love Chanel No. 5. It’s such a classic fragrance, and keep some of that on my dresser, too, just to sniff every now and then. I don’t wear perfumes because I haven’t yet found one that mixes well with my body chemistry. I’m also sensitive to many fragrances, so most of what I buy is unscented. But, yes, spices! Rosemary is delightful, as are basil and thyme. And lavender? Oh, my! (I’ll save my rhapsodizing about cinnamon, allspice, and ginger for another time!) Thank you for sharing your lovely memories!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Ron. I loved sandalwood incense. It was one of our favorites. In fact, I actually found some in the back of a drawer I was cleaning not so long ago and burned it that evening. I’ll tell you, it really brought back memories!


    1. Hi, Neil. I’m with you on the scent of toasted bread…and anything bread (baking bread!), in fact. One of my favorite food scents, along with the aromas of brewing coffee and popcorn. Now I’m really hungry! Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Marta. I don’t wear Shalimar because it doesn’t smell the same on me as it did on my mother, but I keep a bottle on my dresser just to sniff every now and then because it reminds me of her. Such a magical fragrance!


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