Saturday, August 09, 2014

Mood board: Wild Lavender

Recently, on one of my unemployed-wilderness walks, I found wild lavender growing in small shrubs. Firstly, finding any lavender in the North of France and in midsummer is amazing. Secondly, finding it a few blocks away from my house, is just the most epic thing to happen to me. 

I've been obsessed with lavender since I was a child. Since it's a native of the Mediterranean region, it was impossible to find in Goa. However, women in my family managed to always find lavender products, mostly from Yardley; lavender soap, lavender essential oils, lavender potpourri, lavender talc, lavender perfume etc. But none of these products seemed natural to me. Even though their scent was peaceful, the packaging lovely, the colours appealing and our armoires pregnant with the scents of Provence, I never really fully embraced the lavender I grew up with. I was always curious to know what the real plant looked and felt like, and whether it had an actual scent or was the scent processed in factories the only one. 

As it turns out, in France, the lavender plant is pretty much a common thing. People use it like we would use coconut oil. I haven't been to the South of France yet to see the lavender cultivated in fields. It was just a chance to stumble upon wild lavender near Paris. If it makes sense to say that romance has a colour, I'd like to say it's lavender. Moreover, I put my doubts to rest, because the plant actually does have a delicate scent, better than the scent that's packaged and sold. I couldn't resist plucking some sprigs to bring home with me. Beware of bees in the shrubs, because they love lavender just as much as romantics do! What ensued at home, was a mood board with all the lavender coloured products I own :) 

I've brought home more lavender sprigs since my little discovery. I've put them in small sachets and use it like my personal organic aromatherapy. It's strange that lavender is such an ordinary household article, but for me it remains one of the most unique goods I could own. Probably since I associate it with a part of myself I cherish. Every time there's a light breeze, the fragile dried blossoms emit a faint familiar scent, and memories and olfaction get intertwined. Explained scientifically, my olfactory bulb is a member of my limbic system, better known as the brain's emotional center. So according to science, it's simply a process of association (olfactory input followed by emotional output. Voilà!). However, I'd like to add a transcendental experience to olfaction. How else can I explain being transported by the lavender, to that house on a hill, nestled in the woods, where the electricity went out every other night? While the rains poured on our red-tiled roof, around a kerosene lamp we'd gather and all I saw were three or sometimes four pairs of hands, crocheting away in the dark, perfectly and tirelessly. Unfazed by the heat and humidity, my mother's voice would demand I recite the multiplication tables. Occasionally one pair of hands would clap in appreciation of my perfectly recited 12 times table, while another would sneak a toffee into my sweaty palm and another would dab my forehead with her lavender-perfumed kerchief. I'd slowly drift off to a humidity-dazed multiplication-frenzied folktale universe. 

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