Mountain Woman Perfume

May 17, 2010
Nogal House
Indian Divide, New Mexico

Mountain Woman Perfume

At one point in my career, several years ago, I served as the Utility Director for a corporate developer on a high end subdivision. On occasion I dropped into the sales office for a moment or two and would meet with the Office Manager before I made my way through. One morning when I walked into her office she looked up at me and wrinkled her nose a bit and commented, “I smell hamburgers”. I smiled and laughed, looked her right square in the eye and replied, “No, that’s me from the smoke in my woodstove”, and went along on my merry way. Mountain Woman Perfume that is, essence of pinion and juniper thank you, what that a touch of rosemary or patchouli might round it off nicely……..

Wood smoke, that permeable scent that emanates from all but the most airtight of stoves, wafting into the room the moment the stove door is opened, or perhaps even billowing if the wind comes down the chimney just right. Ah yes and filling the house even, if one is not in immediate attendance, and sometimes even then! It is an odor my oldest son was most conscious of, and not so very pleased by either. He has gone to great lengths to avoid such ever since he left home, I will assure you. The other sons and daughter are far more earth bound and Taijia in particular never fails to comment that the house always smells so good, and she means it. Sure love that girl! What that someday she will be where she can tend her own fires and we shall both be pleased.

I built a fire in the outside hearth this morning, the weather having warmed enough to warrant that so as not to get the house too warm. I built this wonderful stone oven myself and it being my first attempt at such things constructed it poorly so it simply won’t draw the smoke as it should. The consequence of the poor construction is the smoke vents in part from the front of the opening and invariably one must lean into it to perform any task, attaining the resulting odor of smoke in the process. I had no plans for the day but there was still the memory of the casual but cutting comment about the smell of hamburgers from my co worker. I shall never quite forget her reaction and it is still laughable even now but enough to stir the concern for future reference.

Why the fire would be the next question? Well, it’s like this: although I do have propane it is a precious commodity and being as focused on scarcity as any good mountain woman should be and given the ready availability of wood I have chosen that route for the moment. I can boil my tea and cook my meals as easily on the metal plate in the hearth as I can on my stove and for no cost other than the slight effort of building a fire, and of course the inevitable smoke………That the practice also brings me to my knees before the hearth, what that a little reverence does the soul well too, I am as grateful as ever for the reminder. Certainly not all of us have the time for such practice in either the physical or the spiritual sense but for me one supports the other. I have one less bill to pay which in turn affords me one more hour to do as I please, this is what I have chosen. The perfume is simply an added bonus!

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