working with blank slates, and finding aromatic compositions in unexpected places

A lot has happened in the time since I last posted an update to the blog here. The worst part is that I’ve had to take a hiatus from my business. There were fairly valid reasons for doing this, focusing primarily on lack of time and attention to devote to my art.

The big news is that I bought a house in the spring.

The bigger news is that I am cultivating a subsistence garden in the back yard, to the dismay of some neighbors, and the curiosity of others. I’m also keeping chickens (a few of them started laying last week!), slowly plugging away at projects in graywater, expanded solar (read: doing more than just propping panels in sunny windows and running much of the house off that), and growing viable soil in a yard that has not been cultivated in a couple decades or more.

The good news is that while I was afraid I’d lose track of aromatics, they’ve been with me all along.

There’s no sweeter and richer smell than a bale of wheat straw in the toolshed on a warm afternoon. I buy this for the chicken run and the nesting boxes. The wood shavings for the floor of their coop smell fabulous, too.

When I turn over compost that is ‘done’, it smells of patchouli.

Gardenias and Jasminum sambac thrive in the side yard, and I’ve been tincturing jasmine blooms for several months now. Clary sage and fragrant geranium love the patio, by contrast. The hops need to be moved, however. They need the southern exposure sunshine in the front yard.

Green corn husks and silk smell almost narcotic if I pick an ear in the evening, even if the corn is matured well beyond the milk stage. (The corn is being grown for the chickens.) Sunflowers have a positively herbaceous bouquet if I harvest the seeds early, especially the red-petaled varieties.

Lavandula viridis loves the shady spot next to the rain barrel on the western side of the house, as do nasturtiums.

On the weekends, when I can get up early and do the watering first thing (my work schedule is such that I have to water in the evenings), I have a moment of ‘where have you been all my life?’ that washes over me as I go from row to row with the watering can.


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