It Smells Like Earth

This morning as I made my bed, I again smiled at a gift I received last year, a small pillow filled with I don’t know – pieces of pinecone? I picked it up, held it to my face and breathed deeply in. The earthy scent of the filling filled me. My eyes closed, my body relaxed, my smile broadened.

earth pillow2mp.jpg

Gabi wrote a note to explain the un-ordinary pillow. It helps us get a good sleep, she said. Just have it near you in bed. Why would someone want a pillow filled with forest material? Why would I want one?

Trees stand tall all around me, some towering over 100 feet. Giants they are. This time of year my windows are wide open. Cool freshness wafts in. I hear birds chirping, squirrels chittering, insects singing, an occasional train in the distance rumbling, not much else except my confused hen (the one that thinks she’s a rooster) sometimes crowing.

Yet I love this pillow. And if I love it, I who live in the country, I can only imagine how other people in other settings might love the scent of earth at the ready, packaged neatly and freely evoking thoughts of earth’s predictable-yet-always-slightly-different cycles, of forest filled with boundless unseen dramas, of blessed, beautiful trees with fluttery leaf dances so high up.

I wonder how a pillow like this strikes a person who lives near the sea, where saltiness would pervade the air, water would predominate the landscape and the rushing, ebbing, flowing tides, rustling dune grasses and hungry shore birds would replace the forest sounds. The waterfront scene is as lovely as the forest, some would say as lovely as the sea of waving grass in the plains or the jagged, white peaks of high mountains. All these places can be our connection to earth, to the intelligent design it presents, to things we often hardly give thought to – how magical and majestic are these natural wonders, how awesome and complex is the schematic that includes all the moving parts of this picture, how utterly spectacular is a sky that is different every single sunset and sunrise.

What do people do who do not have the natural world in their everyday life? I don’t mean you have to have a forest around you or a vast body of water in your sightline. I mean just a piece of nature, like Rachel’s pawpaw trees.

Once I had guests at the cottage, parents and two middle-school-age daughters. As we were exploring the garden, the mother said, “Girls, this is nature.” To me, quietly, she said, “The closest we get to nature is the fruit bowl on the counter.”  Oh, dear, can this be true?

Maybe nature – the wondrous creation of things not-man-made – doesn’t speak to other people the same way it speaks to me. Maybe I just want to think it has a lot to say if only we hear and listen, look and see, touch and feel. The older I get, the more I think there’s more to everything than we can ever know, and that makes it not only endlessly unboring, but also ever able to teach us something new, something we need to know, something that helps or serves something else. Maybe I just hope it.

11 thoughts on “It Smells Like Earth

  1. I know both the giver and the recipient of this special gift, This makes me smile for many reasons. However, most of all because the inside of the pillow is so true and down to earth, with a purpose and an inner and outer beauty. Just as this is true for both of them. So thankful to know you both almost all my life. I greet you with “Nicht zu fassen”!

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    • Claudia, you are the reason I know Gabi in the first place, just one of the many good gifts you have given me. Now here she is bringing/giving something good in turn. Good indeed begets good!

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  2. Patricia, even though I’m sitting here in my cubicle, I could have sworn I smelled the distinct aroma of piney woods — such is the power of your words! Thank you for this today, my friend! What a wonderful sentiment and such a very cool gift! Mona

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    • Piney woods — I love that phrase! I wonder if I could call my woods The Piney-Oakey Woods, which is slightly more accurate than just Piney, but if I did I would probably be UNable to NOT simultaneously think of them as Annie-Oakley Woods, which requires a shotgun somewhere in that picture, which negates the accuracy considerably. Though I have been known to walk around in (and on hot days work in) an outfit that includes both skirt and boots 🙂

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  3. I agree, you write eloquently when you wander into the abstract. You ought to do it more often. There’s no right or wrong to self expression. Your writing makes good rhetoric, rather along the lines of Emerson or other Romantic authors. You might try more of these meditations, and for inspiration look at some 19th Century American stuff. You’d probably like Thoreau. Most people are familiar with Walden. Try improvising from beginning to end, starting to write with no clue where you’ll end up. What did you discover?

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    • Thank you. I appreciate that, especially because I tend to think I’m better at the technical, non-fiction, not-so-freeform stuff. I hesitate to write more abstractly because I worry it won’t make sense (I worry too much in general) but maybe that’s not the thing to think about. I do like Thoreau, always did. Maybe for good reason. And his makes enough sense to me (and a different sense to someone else I presume, but that’s okay). Thank you for the encouragement 🙂

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