May 31, 2011
I was born green- but no one told me J
It wasn’t easy to be green, where I was born- you had to either be born that way, or want it very badly.
I was the bit of both.
I wasn’t raised on a farm, in a bucolic setting, on the Great Plains, in the mountains, by the ocean, in a meadow, in the cradle of civilization-
Or any other lovely location; I was born in Yonkers, near the Bronx.
The New York Central rattled behind our place, next to the Hudson River sewage treatment plant.
I was blessed / cursed to be born, however-
Into an era where green ceased being a mere color-
And grew into a geopolitical emblem instead, crackling with controversy and ethical might.
That came later.
Small children are not political at first…
Tomato plants love soot, and the New York Central provided all the soot they needed.
Nothing to equal a freshly crushed tomato leaf in your slender fist [ask Jean-Claude Ellena !].
Or nosing around the occasional marigold [ah, tagettes ! astringent beauties !] in the yard; the mint plants which overran those poor daggly roses my mother loved so.
I artlessly gravitated to whatever occurred in nature, because it sustained me.
For that, I thank my late mother heartily; it was one of her greatest gifts to me.
Rabindranath Tagore, the brilliant Bengali poet, knew well of these natural charms.
He celebrated them in his Song Offerings, Gitanjali:
“When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands
I know why there is honey in the cup of the flowers
and why fruits are secretly filled with sweet juice
– when I bring sweet things to your greedy hands.”
I was a stubborn learner, being stung over and over again in the Botanical Gardens-
Because I staunchly needed to know first-hand how every iris in an acre of them, differently-hued-
You would have thought I would search for bumblebees first….not a chance.
Everything must be inhaled, all of existence, then AND now.
Imagine my rebellious delight, when I sent myself to Europe, and traveled through Provence in my late teens, alone.
Wild herbs bruised underfoot, lavande des Alpes, mimosa, roses, full-bodied jasmine de Grasse, tuberose:,a paradise of olfactive discovery.
I haunted all the parfumeries and factories – large and small, burying my face in heaps of dried patchouli and vetiver grass.
It was a truly organic progression, then, to natural perfumery and my lifetime obsession with all the beauty naturals bring to the olfactory palette.
While I have accumulated perfume for over 45 years, those fragrances with an abundance of fine quality natural essences-
Or outright 100% botanical scents-
Are those which satisfy me most, and speak to my very soul.
–Ida Meister, Natural Perfume Editor and Senior Editor
Uncorked! Is a blogging event sponsored by the Natural Perfumers Guild celebrating voices telling us all their inner stories of how they came to love natural aromatics *or* why they love natural perfumery.
For more of these vignettes check out the participating blogs below: