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Winter Radiance Newsletter

"Whose woods these are I think I know.winter moon

His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'
by Robert Frost (1923)

The winter holiday season is upon us with the beauty and mystery of life being celebrated in numerous ways by cultures throughout the world. It the northern hemisphere the people living in many countries experience the winter season with its cooler temperatures and shorter days. This naturally draws us towards a quiet, contemplative state of heart and mind where one may draw nearer to simple truths that bring the grand mystery of existence into clearer focus and give purpose and meaning to the life journey.

"I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.

There was no other creature
That saw what I could see --
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me."

'February Twilight'
by Sara Teasdale

Nature, herself, becomes somber and stark as the color and brightness of the flowers, trees, shrubs, vines and herbs that enliven the environment at other times of year become dormant. There is a great elegance and beauty in such simple landscapes that play no small part in inspiring us to re-examine the reason we are living in the world and what we can do in our small way to make brighten up our lives and those we come in contact with.

"Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.

The rayless sun,
Day's journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Unearthly white.

Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon."

by Walter de la Mare

One of the simple pleasures, bringing warmth and sweetness to the home environment in which one lives, can be achieved through the creation of visual perfumes. There are many aromatic botanicals which have been used and are used now in the form of incense and perfumes to sharpen ones focus on inner life. Frankincense and myrrh are in Western culture renowned for there role in sacred tradition. Other botanicals were used in preparing festive meals or because they were special treats that one might only enjoy at that season of the year. Many spices with their aromatic aromas and citrus fruits, which were once rare holiday treats for many people fall in this category. People in many countries have also enjoyed bringing into their homes scented green coniferous foliage to decorate with the homes in various ways. There is a vast fragrant wealth to draw upon if one wishes to pursue this lovely creative work.

Another dimension of creating a visual perfume for the holiday season is that one may start collecting and drying various botanicals for it during any season of the year when they are available. In almost every environment there are some types of mosses berries, cones, flowers, etc that can be harvested for making ones aromatic creation later on in the year. It can be a family affair and a great nature education for ones children and oneself as well. There are many elegant shapes, forms and colors as well as scents of plants to be found in mountains, meadows, forests etc, many of which can be dried. It can become a wonderful exercise in observation of the world around one and children, with their natural sense of wonder alive and active, can often discover things which one might never have considered from the angle of visual perfume creation. In fact one may include beautiful stones, shells, and other precious gifts from nature in their creations. In that way the visual perfume can also tell a story of personal discovery.

For the holiday season we have created Winter Radiance Visual Perfume using various botanicals to create a gold, brown, red and green theme and blending into essential oils and spices with a resinous, spicy, citrus scent.


Winter Radiance Visual Perfume

1 lb frankincense tears
1 lb star anise
1 lb dried orange peel
2 lbs corn cob grains(for the fixative)
8 ounces green cedar tips
1 lb red lichii berries
8 ounces birch pine cones
4 ounce grey oak moss

Essence blend:

2 ounces Sweet Orange eo
1 1/2 ounces Frankincense Cedarwood Absolute
1/2 ounce Fir Balsam Absolute
1/4 ounce Star Anise eo
1/8 ounce Cinnamon bark eo
1 ounce Pine Needle Absolute
1/2 ounce Templin(Fir Cone) eo

Winter Holidays in Literature

Sometimes the lowing of a cow, long-drawn,
Comes from far off; and crows in strings
Pass on the upper silences.
A flock of small gray goldfinches,
Flown down with silvery twitterings,
Rustle among the birch-cones and are gone.

--from Lyrics of Earth
by Archibald Lampman

The tame crow stayed in the kitchen. He was afraid of so many strangers. The tame coon wasn't afraid of anything. He crawled in and out of all the wrapping-papers, sniffing and sniffing. It made a lovely crackling sound.

Everything smelt like fir balsam. It was more beautiful every minute. Even after[Pg 50] every last present was picked from the tree, the tree was still so fat and fluffy with tinsel and glass balls that it didn't look robbed at all.

--from Fairy Prince and Other Stories
By Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

There were pears and apples clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers' benevolence, to dangle from conspicuous hooks that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags, and eaten after dinner.

--from A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens

The weather became worse as we advanced, traversing the low, broad hills, through wastes of dark pine forests. The wind cut like a sharp sword in passing the hollows, and the drifting snow began to fill the tracks. We were full two hours in making the ten miles to Frostkage, and the day seemed scarcely nearer at hand. The leaden, lowering sky gave out no light, the forests were black and cold, the snow a dusky grey—such horribly dismal scenery I have rarely beheld. We warmed ourselves as well as we could, and started anew, having for postilions two rosy boys, who sang the whole way and played all sorts of mad antics with each other to keep from freezing. At the next station we drank large quantities of hot milk, flavored with butter, sugar and cinnamon, and then pushed on, with another chubby hop-o'-my-thumb as guide and driver. The storm grew worse and worse: the wind blew fiercely over the low hills, loaded with particles of snow, as fine as the point of a needle and as hard as crystal, which struck full on our eyeballs and stung them so that we could scarcely see. I had great difficulty in keeping my face from freezing, and my companion found his cheek touched.

--from Northern Travel
by Bayard Taylor

When the offertory anthem was sung, he rose up, and advanced to the altar. A salver of gold coins was presented to him, which he took and solemnly laid on the altar, but paused for a moment, and removed his crown with both hands, placing it likewise on the altar, and kneeling for a moment ere he turned to take the vase whence breathed the fragrant odour of frankincense; and presenting this, and afterwards kneeling and bowing low with clasped hands, he again took the salver in which the myrrh was laid. This again he placed on the altar, and remained kneeling in intense devotion through the remainder of the service, only looking up at the 'Sursum Corda,' when those near enough to see his countenance said that they never knew before the full import of those words, nor how the heart could be uplifted.

--from The Herd Boy and His Hermit
by Charlotte M. Yonge

But Memory is immortal, and to me
She advanced, silent, slow, a muffled shape.
One moonlight night I walked through long white lanes;
The sky and sea were like a frosted web;
The air was heavy with familiar scents,
Which travelled down the wind, I knew from where--
The fragrance of a grove of Northern pines.

--from Poems
by Elizabeth Stoddard

When dusk closed in it would be Christmas eve. All day I had three points--a chair beside the kitchen table, a lookout melted through the frost on the front window, and the big sitting-room fireplace.

All the perfumes of Araby floated from our kitchen that day. There was that delicious smell of baking flour from big snowy loaves of bread, light biscuit, golden coffee cake, and cinnamon rolls dripping a waxy mixture of sugar, butter, and spice, much better than the finest butterscotch ever brought from the city. The air was filled with the smell of more herbs and spices than I knew the names of, that went into mincemeat, fruit cake, plum pudding, and pies. There was a teasing fragrance in the spiced
vinegar heating for pickles, a reminder of winesap and rambo in the boiling cider, while the newly opened bottles of grape juice filled the house with the tang of Concord and muscadine. It seemed to me I never got nicely fixed where I could take a sly dip in the cake dough or snipe a fat raisin from the mincemeat but Candace would say: "Don't you suppose the backlog is halfway down the lane?"

--from Laddie
by Gene Stratton Porter