Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 10: Creature Comforts: Smells

Cinnamon, spice souk, Dubai, UAE. January 2012.


Each time I venture out into the COVID wildlands, I bring back with me some creature comfort. A Survivor Island comfort item. A treat.

In my most recent expedition, I picked up two slender, plastic cylinders of herbs: dried rosemary and dried oregano. At home in my cave, each time I pop or twist a lid, I draw in their aromas. A slight eucalyptic vapor of the rosemary, and a nostalgia for my childhood's Saturday-night-homemade-pizza dinners that the oregano summons.

These herby perfumes give me so much pleasure for so little cost.

A twist of herb, Yerevan, Armenia. March 2012.

I remember my visit to the Celestial Seasonings tea plant near Boulder, Colorado, a few years back:

Walking through waves of scent. An aroma bath. Breathing deeply to pull in those biological perfumes. Sheer sensual pleasure.

The mint room. It's in its own room because mint's perfume is so sharp, so pungent, that it invades all other fragrances in its wave. Some visitors cannot even stay in this room for longer than a few seconds because they are overcome by its power.

My humble herb garden, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

I remember an ode to the intoxicating fragrance of ripe mangoes, written by Ngishili:
And I am just here breathing the sweet air. If this day’s oxygen were a drink, it would be served as a brightly colored tropical cocktail with two olives, a tiny umbrella and a fancy pair of drinking straws. It might as well be, considering that taking a deep breathe leaves one heady; at the brink of being intoxicated. But all I can think about is mangoes. I know that the mango trees are laden with fruit at this time of year. The mangoes are still green and will be ripening en mass in a few short weeks. At that time, every mango tree will litter the ground with yellow ready fruit, with such mischief that it would be impossible to walk past the tree without being dunked on the top of your head.

I remember how swoony the scent of guavas made me in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico:

The guavas' fragrance wafts over me as I work at my laptop. It is the stuff of cliches - "heady" and "intoxicating." I don't know of any other fruit that has the same effect. Maybe a freshly-cut lime. But where a lime's scent is sharp and energizing, the guava's is a silky perfume that makes you inhale slowly and deeply. Why don't we have guava-based perfume?

Guavas and lime, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. November 2010.

Excuse me while I go to my cabinet for an olfactory hit of oregano and rosemary.

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