Trees Change Their Smells Over Time
I have a friend who says that different trees smell differently over time. Also, depending on if it is dry or wet, the tree exudes their hidden meanings into the air. His unappetizing descriptions were of “urine, semen, and sour except for honeysuckle (which I don’t mention is a shrub) but he says with a smile that honeysuckle “smells like honeydew”.
What do trees smell like? Forest soil? Air in the woods? I narrowed down my question to the smelling of trees and decided to investigate by stepping into the trailhead of my own path.
Literally, I do have a path outside my door. Though often I speak of a path in the figurative; path of human spirit, path of spiritually, path of emotional maturity, or the dark path-as I described to a wayward friend this year.
This path lives under my shoes as I move forward across earth like millions of ancient people used to do. Although, I realize that modernity has estranged me from my pre-historic grand relatives to the point of no return. How could I know anything about who my archaic grandparents were like? Those from Germany and Ireland and parts unknown?
I wonder if trees smell differently now from their ancient relatives?
Where I now walk, Sissipahaw Indians once walked the woods where many of these trees were possibly related to their real ancient grand relatives. Or maybe just carry-ins by the wind and wild animals. Not the trees in my post. Those trees are mostly non-native trees I planted and fell in love with because of their evergreen-ness or beauty.
Smelling now with a modern nose. The Sequoia that I planted ten years ago smells like gentle light. That’s all I can come up with. And the Thuja Green Giant with waxy ridging fingers that reach out to fill every possible space, has a citrusy lime aroma. I think of summer ginger ale drinks and salsa.
Chickweed. Oh I love chickweed! Tastes and nourishes better than fall lettuces and smells like lettuce too. This chickweed is not a tree, but who cares when it smells like life and tastes like life and offers itself so lovingly. When I chew the small leaves, a loud crunchy noise resounds in my head. Free to us and to the wild animals, chickweed is there for us. But don’t touch the plants that grow under power lines or where weed killer sprays have been applied. Ellis from my novel cautions Belle!
Another green beauty: the Eastern cedar has tiny blue-black berries with an ocean spray washy smell that relaxes me except that it stings me with its sharp tendrils pushed against my tender nose.
Bayleaf Magnolia is the master of hiding its scent. Forces me to sniff the underside of the leaf to extract the aroma of Indian food-curry maybe or ginger.
Winged Elm is the most beautiful and the only bare-leaved indigenous tree that my novice personhood could identify since deciduous trees must be ID’d without their leaves on this rainy December 31. A slightly sour fermenting odor rose from the ridged branches. Somehow the elm commanded a personhood too. A man with many arms is the winged elm man. But I can not answer the question about the way a tree used to smell before the great forests were decimated by humans. In my heart, I would say their smells were more intense and individualized to fantastic growing mediums. In those earlier years preceding human destruction, soil would have been nourished, life-giving, and scented overwhelmingly by life, death and renewal.
Categories: Fur, Feathers, Fronds & Fish