“I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”
~ Dr. Suess
Have you ever tracked what you love, what inspires you, makes your soul sing? Recently I discovered a deep reverence for the mighty Oak, which unknowingly opened the portal to a series of botanical perfumes. Since purchasing our home in Spring 2000, my partner and I patiently awaited the right moment to buy the empty lot next to us. To our horror the neighbor turned around and sold the tiny, substandard lot to a developer. Our intention was to preserve the oak trees and create an indigenous garden. The intention of the developer was to take out all the trees and construct a 3500 square foot palace. We had always been told that oak trees were protected. Indeed, Los Angeles has something called “The Protected Tree Ordinance”,
however, the ordinance means basically nothing when it comes to a developer wanting to build.
In the same parallel universe, I had begun a perfume based on Beltane. Beltane is an ancient Celtic/Druid holy day occurring on May 1st. On the eve of Beltane, I went out and gathered leaves from a large coastal live oak with the intention that the trees would stay firmly rooted and thrive. I mindfully cleaned the leaves and tinctured them as the perfume base. While the tincture marinated I created a wood chord of sixteen different essential oils, absolutes and C02 extractions. After filtering the tinctured leaves I began building the perfume, first with the wood chord and then adding other notes until the fragrance was complete. Pondering what to call the perfume I settled on “Q” for Quercus, which is the botanical name for Oak.
As I write this the four large oaks and several other small ones on the lot are still standing. We have gone before our local Specific Plan Board several times insisting that the trees must not be endangered or cut down. Each time we have won. In the meantime I have gotten involved with several local community groups, our neighborhood has been united and we have all learned a great deal. I now look at our native Oaks and the surrounding landscape with new eyes. I have learned the value of an authentic landscape. Did you know that all those palm trees that have become symbolic of LA are non-native?
I bow to the mighty oak and all they continue to teach me. If the challenge with the neighbor had never presented itself I may not have become an active proponent of Oaks and native plants. Sometimes our nemesis can facilitate a clear path to what we love and are here to do.
Q was the first botanical perfume in the series titled “Californica, honoring the aromatic landscape of the State of California.