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I learned, in searching for a title for this post, that aroma, scent and fragrance share meanings, however fragrance is usually reserved for flowers. Hence, my title. According to my “Plant Snap” phone app, the flower above is a “Ropevine Clemetis”. The photo is the outcome of a focused search.

My forest walk offers a variety of aromas, most from the decay of one form of life being replaced by another. For about a week though, I was suddenly aware of a sweet, even delightful fragrance, usually arriving in a gentle breeze. I was startled! I enjoyed it for a few days, then grew curious. It was a strong enough aroma that I knew it was probably something growing in the forest and that it was plentiful. Since it seemed the aroma of a flower, hence, a fragrance, I realized it was potentially a fleeting experience. I started watching for the flower, and found the Ropevine Clemetis, often. Thus, the photo.

Flowers have always been a powerful force in my life, a source of pleasure, joy and gratitude. It has seemed to me that often the sole purpose of their existence was to elicit this positive surge of energy in humans, to celebrate the beauty of life for a golden moment before they died. I thought it was a nice contribution to make to planet earth and I was persistently pleased with their contribution. They were an integral part of my lifestyle. When I was going through my divorce, to offset the sense of “carnage” that experience can create, I required myself to always have a living flower blossoming in my home. They were my friends, and some days my deepest source of comfort and joy.

I grew up with the adage to “stop and smell the roses”. I usually did. It was as if one had to make an effort to pay attention to flowers, to notice their capacity to evoke in me this positive surge. I complied happily, attentive to the adage. And I always felt it depended on my initiative and intention.

Yet, here I was in my forest enclave, and the flowers were taking the initiative and seemed so persistent that it felt like nature’s intent. Accordingly, I felt compelled to start the search for the flowers. And my search was rewarded. I pondered all this.

There is a metaphor lurking here. Sometimes our lives unfold due to our initiative and intention. We like to pretend that is always the case. The Ropevine Clemetis reminded me that sometimes it is the reverse: nature is the source of insistent initiative and intention and my task is to experience and respond, to be open to the offer, to appreciate and be grateful for the gift.

There are many disturbing events unfolding daily, locally, nationally and globally. I can obsess over all these things, knowing what I can do to offset the damages is fairly limited in scope. There are things I can do and it is critical that I do these things. The Ropevine Clemetis reminded me that there is also joy, delight, and beauty and to ignore this is to live an off-kilter life.Fragrance counts.

“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”

~Luther Burbank


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