Since I spend a lot of time with my soaps, I think of them as my friends. I give them different personalities and I thought you may like to see them the way I do. Meet Autumn, my Patchouli Clove soap.
Outside her log cabin in upstate New York, just north of the Catskills, Autumn is outside in her herb garden picking fresh rosemary and lavender when her daughter Phoenix rides up on her bicycle along with her best friend, Jade. They are seniors this year, both hoping to get into Bard. Autumn stands up and brushes the dirt from her hands after weeding around her plants. “Hey, baby,” she says to her daughter. “Hi, Jade.” The girls just finished the summer working at a local fresh vegetable and baked goods stand on the corner of a main road heading up to the highway.
“We brought home some tomatoes, zucchini, and leeks. Thought you could make something good with that for dinner,” Phoenix said, smiling. Autumn learned how to cook on the commune she grew up on. Her parents, who were part of the crowd at Woodstock in the summer of 1969, drove out west in an orange and cream-colored VW van. They arrived at Cal, aka UC Berkeley, thinking her mother was just car sick, but it turned out she was pregnant with Autumn and plans soon changed. They moved into a Northern California commune where Autumn’s mother cooked and made clothes, while her father built furniture and grew vegetables for the group. When Autumn arrived, it wasn’t long before she was learning from them and contributing her own efforts, weeding the garden with her father, and making the salad with her mother. She and her father, and Phoenix’s father, had built the log cabin she was living in. Though the girl had left the commune, the commune had not left the girl, now woman. And her daughter was following the family tradition.
“Well let’s see what we can make with these,” Autumn said, as she brought in the herbs along with Phoenix’s bag. “I’m making some lavender lemonade and white bean soup with rosemary,” Autumn added, with a glance to see if the girls were hungry.
Phoenix picked up her guitar and started plucking the strings as she plopped onto the sofa in front of the fan to cool down.
“Your house always smells so good,” Jade said. “And it’s not just the food cooking on the stove. And yes, I’d love some lemonade,” she added, wiping the sweat from her brow. Autumn tossed Jade a tie-dyed towel.
Autumn still liked to wear a bandana to hold her long locks away from her face. Some people teased that she looked so ‘60s, but when she was ready to dress up for special events, she braided her hair down her back, threw on a long skirt and a tunic top, some boots, and jewelry that Phoenix made from wire and crystals to sell at the farmer’s market on Saturdays in the summertime.
“Well, Jade, it could be the thieves oil and cloves I use to keep the bugs away, or the patchouli incense I burn on the porch when I meditate.” Autumn loved the smell of patchouli and cloves. Some people think of cloves as the smell of Christmas, but to her, it was the soap her mother used to bathe her in as a child in a big old steel tub in the kitchen. It made her feel as if she had traveled to an exotic place, and she would go to bed, snuggled next to her parents on feather pillows and a feather mattress top, breathing in the delicious scent of patchouli and cloves as they read to her about the lives of strong and smart young men and women—Marie Curie, Helen Keller, and Jesse Owens—or classics from literature by Twain, Thoreau or Emily Dickenson. She knew she was secure, safe and well cared for, and that had not changed. Her special artisan-made bars of Patchouli Clove soap were always on hand in her linen chest in her bedroom, where they exuded their scent onto her embroidered white bed linens. Though she had grown into a capable and creative woman in her own right, the little girl in her still found comfort in the scents of her childhood, when Mommy and Daddy kept her close.
I hope you love Autumn as much as I do.
Yours in Gratitude,