Sacred Spaces

Scent Home

As a gift last year, my youngest daughter-in-law gave me a mason jar filled with dried, aromatic plants native to the area in southern California where she grew up—removing the lid releases the scent of her childhood home, evoking memory for her and imagination for me. Late afternoon yesterday, nearing the end of her and my youngest son’s visit here to Austin from Wyoming for her spring break, the three of us went on a vigorous walk through the wild area surrounding our neighborhood for a gentle gathering of plants similarly representative of the scent and texture of this central Texas home of ours, sampled during a tender spring season. We were accompanied by brilliant sunshine, a stiff breeze, broken-limbed evidence all around of the catastrophic devastation of last month’s ice storm—and still, we had our eyes attuned to two of each small snippet of what communicates place, we shared stories prompted by the items, we stayed on schedule for a whole-family dinner at my brother’s later in the evening. There’s still a faint trace of salvia greggii on my hands—the fuchsia flowers allowed to bloom and sustain butterflies and hummingbirds because the deer can’t abide the leaves’ intensity—but the balm of the beauty of our time together will linger much longer.