What we talk about less often, because it is harder to explain, is the way a perfume can give breath and body to the phantom selves that waft about us as we go through our days - not just the showgirl, the femme fatale, and the ingenue, but all the memories and dreams of the taller, meaner, sharper, sweeter, softer people we have been or long to be.
It is curious to observe the triumph of slight incidents over the mind; and what incredible weight they have in forming and governing our opinions, both of men and things, that trifles light as air shall waft a belief into the soul, and plant it so immovable within it, that Euclid's demonstrations, could they be brought to batter it in breach, should not all have power to overthrow it!
To these children, the door William has just come through is a portal. Being shoved through it means a trip to hell where only demons come to visit and the man before them fits that description; his deep, hard eyes frame his long, winding scar and behind him, flames rise as the smell of smoke and charring meat waft into the room.
As flowers carry dewdrops, trembling on the edges of the petals, and ready to fall at the first waft of wind or brush of bird, so the heart should carry its beaded words of thanksgiving; and at the first breath of heavenly flavor, let down the shower, perfumed with the heart's gratitude.
Henry Ward Beecher
We have known for a long time that Prince Charles' empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant. He fell for the fake anthropologist Laurens van der Post. He was bowled over by the charms of homeopathic medicine. He has been believably reported as saying that plants do better if you talk to them in a soothing and encouraging way.
We have known for a long time that Prince Charles' empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant. He fell for the fake anthropologist Laurens van der Post. He was bowled over by the charms of homeopathic medicine. He has been believably reported as saying that plants do better if you talk to them in a soothing and encouraging way
All about us, in earth and air, wherever the eye or ear can reach, there is a power ever breathing itself forth in signs, now in daisy, now in a wind-waft, a cloud, a sunset; a power that holds constant and sweetest relation with the dark and silent world within us. The same God who is in us, and upon whose tree we are the buds, if not yet the flowers, also is all about us- inside, the Spirit; outside, the Word. And the two are ever trying to meet in us...
Already nature is serving all those uses which science slowly derives on a much higher and grander scale to him that will be served by her. When the sunshine falls on the path of the poet, he enjoys all those pure benefits and pleasures which the arts slowly and partially realize from age to age. The winds which fan his cheek waft him the sum of that profit and happiness which their lagging inventions supply.
Henry David Thoreau
When bow-hunting, you find you get closer to the woodland critters. The flora and the forest floor becomes clearer. You look at things more closely. You're moreaware. You know the limited range of the bow is only 40 yards or so. You must try to outwait that approaching deer. Careful not to make the slightest movement or sound hoping that your scent won't suddenly waft his way. That's when you'll know for sure and appreciate deeply what bow-hunting is all about.
Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. The odors of fruits waft me to my southern home, to my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening fields far away.
The first cup moistens my lips and throat; The second cup breaks my loneliness; The third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some thousand volumes of odd ideographs; The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration-all the wrongs of life pass out through my pores; At the fifth cup I am purified; The sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals. The seventh cup-ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of the cool wind that raises in my sleeves. Where is Elysium? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.
I was six years old when my mother died. For a long time afterward, the sweet and earthy magnolia scent of her would permeate my dreams. No matter what I was dreaming about, good or frightening, my mother's smell would waft through my nighttime adventures, infusing them with her unseen presence, reassuring me even through their darkest moments. I never told anyone about this. I felt that, somehow, my mother had found a way to communicate with me from heaven even though I knew from the down-to-earth practicality of my Baptist Sunday School lessons that it was likely impossible. Still, I have heard it said more than once that with God, nothing is impossible. Is it so hard to imagine that He, in His infinite compassion, might have, for a moment in time, comforted a scared little girl with her mother's familiar scent?
As a perfume doth remain In the folds where it hath lain, So the thought of you, remaining Deeply folded in my brain, Will not leave me; all things leave me - You remain. Other thoughts may come and go, Other moments I may know That shall waft me, in their going, As a breath blown to and fro, Fragrant memories; fragrant memories Come and go. Only thoughts of you remain In my heart where they have lain, Perfumed thoughts of you, remaining, A hid sweetness, in my brain. Others leave me; all things leave me - You remain.
And your will shall decide your destiny, " he said: "I offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions." You play a farce, which I merely laugh at." I ask you to pass through life at my side-to be my second self, and best earthly companion." For that fate you have already made your choice, and must abide by it." Jane, be still a few moments: you are over-excited: I will be still too." A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walk, and trembled through the boughs of the chestnut: it wandered away-away-to an indefinite distance-it died. The nightingale's song was then the only voice of the hour: in listening to it, I again wept. Mr. Rochester sat quiet, looking at me gently and seriously. Some time passed before he spoke; he at last said - Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one another." I will never again come to your side: I am torn away now, and cannot return." But, Jane, I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to marry." I was silent: I thought he mocked me. Come, Jane-come hither." Your bride stands between us." He rose, and with a stride reached me. My bride is here, " he said, again drawing me to him, "because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?
I am puffed clay, blown up and set down. That I fall like Adam is not surprising; I plunge, waft, arc, pour, and dive. The surprise is how good the wind feels on my face as I fall. And the other surprise is that I ever rise at all. I rise when I receive, like grass. I didn't know, I have never known, what spirit it is that descends into my lungs and flaps near my heart like an eagle rising. I name it full-of-wonder, highest good, voices. I shut my eyes and saw a tree stump hurled by wind, an enormous tree stump sailing sideways across my vision, with a wide circular brim of roots and soil like a tossed top hat. And what if those grasshoppers had been locusts descending, I thought, and what if I stood awake in a swarm? I cannot ask for more than to be so wholly acted upon, flown at, and lighted on in throngs, probed, knocked, even bitten. A little blood from the wrists and throats is the price I would willingly pay for that pressure of clacking weights on my shoulders, for the scent of deserts,- for being so in the clustering thick of things, rapt and enwrapped in the rising and falling real world.
When it comes to generating writing material, teenagers are gold. Their world is a narcissistic, anarchic, paranoid hell of anxieties and stresses about how they look; how popular they are or aren't; and how fast or slowly, big or small their private parts are growing. As an observer, it's fantastic. Hilarious, at times. Poignant and heartbreaking. It is all the stuff of great human drama because, before your eyes, you get to witness character transformation. Boy grows into man. Girl grows into woman. Writers strain to make this shit up. But - and here's the catch - we dare not discuss any of this if we want our kids to trust us or ever talk to us again. And that's because, lifts and pocket money aside, teenagers crave privacy - the need for which hatches both swiftly and silently while we're sorting out the laundry. It's as if they suddenly wake up one day creeped out by the thought of all those years we wiped their butts and helped them put on their undies and they go into lock- down. They smoke us out, put up walls, close their doors, shut down their stories, and waft, earphoned, through our homes in a shroud of hormones and appetite. Their lives - in which, until recently, we participated with Too Much Information and gross oversharing - suddenly become 'none of our business.
Ah, I believe Schacht. Only too willingly; that's to say, I think what he says is absolutely true, for the world is incomprehensibly crass, tyrannical, moody, and cruel to sickly and sensitive people. Well, Schacht will stay here for the time being. We laughed at him a bit, when he arrived, that can't be helped either, Schacht is young and after all can't be allowed to think there are special degrees, advantages, methods, and considerations for him. He has now had his first disappointment, and I'm convinced that he'll have twenty disappointments, one after the other. Life with its savage laws is in any case for certain people a succession of discouragements and terrifying bad impressions. People like Schacht are born to feel and suffer a continuous sense of aversion. He would like to admit and welcome things, but he just can't. Hardness and lack of compassion strike him with tenfold force, he just feels them more acutely. Poor Schacht. He's a child and he should be able to revel in melodies and bed himself in kind, soft, carefree things. For him there should be secret splashings and birdsong. Pale and delicate evening clouds should waft him away in the kingdom of Ah, What's Happening to Me? His hands are made for light gestures, not for work. Before him breezes should blow, and behind him sweet, friendly voices should be whispering. His eyes should be allowed to remain blissfully closed, and Schacht should be allowed to go quietly to sleep again, after being wakened in the morning in the warm, sensuous cushions. For him there is, at root, no proper activity, for every activity is for him, the way he is, improper, unnatural, and unsuitable. Compared with Schacht I'm the trueblue rawboned laborer. Ah, he'll be crushed, and one day he'll die in a hospital. or he'll perish, ruined in body and soul, inside one of our modern prisons.
All at once, something wonderful happened, although at first, it seemed perfectly ordinary. A female goldfinch suddenly hove into view. She lighted weightlessly on the head of a bankside purple thistle and began emptying the seedcase, sowing the air with down. The lighted frame of my window filled. The down rose and spread in all directions, wafting over the dam's waterfall and wavering between the tulip trunks and into the meadow. It vaulted towards the orchard in a puff; it hovered over the ripening pawpaw fruit and staggered up the steep faced terrace. It jerked, floated, rolled, veered, swayed. The thistle down faltered down toward the cottage and gusted clear to the woods; it rose and entered the shaggy arms of pecans. At last it strayed like snow, blind and sweet, into the pool of the creek upstream, and into the race of the creek over rocks down. It shuddered onto the tips of growing grasses, where it poised, light, still wracked by errant quivers. I was holding my breath. Is this where we live, I thought, in this place in this moment, with the air so light and wild? The same fixity that collapses stars and drives the mantis to devour her mate eased these creatures together before my eyes: the thick adept bill of the goldfinch, and the feathery coded down. How could anything be amiss? If I myself were lighter and frayed, I could ride these small winds, too, taking my chances, for the pleasure of being so purely played. The thistle is part of Adam's curse. 'Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.' A terrible curse: But does the goldfinch eat thorny sorrow with the thistle or do I? If this furling air is fallen, then the fall was happy indeed. If this creekside garden is sorrow, then I seek martyrdom. I was weightless; my bones were taut skins blown with buoyant gas; it seemed that if I inhaled too deeply, my shoulders and head would waft off. Alleluia.