Sweet Gale is useful
"Approaching the island a familiar smell struck my nose. My thoughts where immediately put on hold to make room for memories." Or as the character Kwetal from the book 'De antiloog' by Marten Toonder aptly says; "A boss is boss about his brain .... But not everyone is a brain manager. That is why the gale has utility ".
So Gale it is.
During a poetic walk among the dunes with artist and poet Ruud Knier I discovered the usefulness and inspiring qualities of Gale. Ruud knows and explores the island with an artist's eye and ear and converts his findings into poetry that he recites in the area where it belongs: the Wadden Sea island of Terschelling.
I was familiair with the Gagelbos in Utrecht, but I had never ‘encountered’ the bush that bears this name , Gale or Myrica gale before. Ruud stopped at a soggy piece of land and pointed to the shrubbery vegetation and asked us to use our noses. And as an Ambass’Odor that’s what I do and like. But before I could truly inhale the essence of the fragrance, my family fellow walkers were already shouting one after the other; because yes, as we know, fragrance makes us talk and bring back memories. And that's nice. When smelling something our brain is temporarily put on hold as we enter the scenery of emotions. So nobody is really manager of his brain. And that is why Gale is useful.
Sweet Gale is a plant with a 'greedy' past; it is on the list of almost endangered species, so smelling is ok, but rather not pick it. It has a resinous, balsamic odor, which refers to the original Celtic word 'gal' which means balm. In daily life the plant was mainly used as insect repellent and applied locally in brewing beer for it’s somewhat bitter taste. In the perfume industry the oil of the (cultivated) herb is still used to create citrus chords and green notes in perfumes.
So, walking through this organic, feminine and soft landscape, whilst hearing Ruud's poems, experiencing wind and fragrances, our group tasted the essence of Terschelling. Pausing at the gale shrubs, Ruud shared his thoughts on what him and the islanders reminds of Terschelling. The scent of gale, to be scented at sea on your way to the island ,which makes Terschelling truly Terschelling.
Make a poetry walk, a "Getijtocht" met Ruud Knier
Smelling Gale and want to know more about scent psychology?
Subscribe to the NEUSbrief (Dutch, Perfume and fragrance know-how, appears yearly twice)
DUTCH version of this BLOG Geurambassadeur
The poem "Ora et Labora" from the collection "Close Up"
(book available after the hike with Ruud Knier)