What’s That Smell?

I just love the olfactory experience. It connects. It describes. It mystifies. It manipulates. It deceives. It embraces. It deepens. It portrays. It attracts. It averts. It amplifies.

It enhances the sensual, the exotic, the erotic, the repulsive, the beautiful, the old, the new, the bland, the creative . . . and the love.

As an essential oil enthusiast, practitioner and junkie – I find the world of odor, the biology, the chemistry and the evolutionary path, a mesmerizing ride. Nature uses a repetitive number of odor molecules, with a variety of single compound uses and benefit, then mixing and blending these into a multitude of fragrances – the game at play long before arrogance could claim it subservient to humanity.

I’m just entering the beginning chapters of What The Nose Knows by Avery Gilbert and rediscovering the vastness of nature’s sport of chemotaxis – using the chemical compounds we sense as odor molecules for attraction and aversion.

Interesting how the compound we sniff and detect as wintergreen, methyl salicylate, is used by the male Green-veined White butterfly as an antiaphrodisiac (which, by the way, would be considered as such in aromatherapy circles). The compound is transferred during mating to keep the other guys out of his genetic territory. It may be antiaphrodisiac to the other male Green-veined Whites, but it’s an attractor of a parasitic wasp that is drawn by the scent, hops a ride on the back of the female butterfly to inject its eggs into the layed eggs of the female Green-veined White. Methyl salicylate helps turn butterfly eggs into baby food for parasitic wasps.

” . . . the scents of nature are largely  a chemical conversation between plants and animals, and humans merely eavesdrop.”

I would almost agree with Avery on this one. Instead, I think humans just need to relearn how to read the writings up the nose.