Providence Perfume Co. - We specialize in natural perfume
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A Personal Account of How I Began My Love Affair
by Charna Ethier
owner of Providence Perfume Co.
Growing up the child of hippie parents perhaps predetermined my affinity for all things natural. It was what I knew. I learned of squash blossoms, blackberries and maple syrup. I was taught how to weed and mulch the garden at a young age. I recognized the change of seasons by smell. I could tell when autumn was arriving before the plants seemed to realize their imminent demise. I could sniff the air and foretell an impending thunderstorm before the clouds started to gather. I just knew when it was going to snow by the smell of the air.
My parents had a farm (read commune) in rural New England. Believe it or not, the name of the town in which my parents farm was located was called Unity. I'm serious. To get to the farm one must drive up an extremely steep dirt road called Straw Hill for miles. Nestled at the top of the hill lay my parents farmstead. I have bad memories of our clunky old VW Bug spinning it's tires on the snow covered road in winter, only to slide back down the steep icy hill. Eventually my mother would smile as she haphazardly tried to keep the small car from ending up in the ditch, and tell us to pull our winter hats down and make sure our snowsuits were buttoned--we would be walking the rest of the way home. Despite the cold long walk, what I remember most about those evenings was the clear night sky, the bright stars and moon, the smell of woodsmoke and wool as I breathed through my scarf, the crunch of the snow under my boots.
We always had lots of visitors, parties and animals. Oftentimes these visitors would end up staying with us for months, even years. These visitors brought new smells. I remember Nag Champa incense, patchouli, Brylcreem and Charlie cologne. New smells, exotic and unfamiliar. I liked these smells but considered them potent and possibly dangerous. This childhood connotation between unfamiliar scents and danger could be derived from a Charlie cologne wearing woman with long black hair who stayed with us during the summer of 1980. She seemed potent and possibly dangerous to me. She only smiled with her mouth, not her eyes and left abruptly one day leaving her dogeared copy of "The Modern Witch's Spellbook" on the back porch.
Now I have no back porch, but from my patio in Providence I still rejoice in the aromas of my surroundings, some natural and familiar such as the green scent of tomato leaves baking in the sun, some exotic such as the delicious scent of curry wafting from my neighbor's window. I still get a thrill out of smelling everything. I love scents and am drawn to sniffing everything I can get my hands on. I love natural ingredients. I love the multihued palette. I love sampling rare, exotic botanicals I've never smelled. Just as I did as a child, I seek out new smells, exotic and unfamiliar. Sadly, I may not be able to travel to Thailand, but when I smell kaffir lime leaf I can almost imagine that I am there.
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