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III. A Leaf of Spearmint Henry van Dyke

Recollections Of A Boy And A Rod.

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"It puzzles me now, that I remember all these young impressions so, because I took no heed of them at the time whatever; and yet they come upon me bright, when nothing else is evident in the gray fog of experience."--B. D. BLACKMORE: Lorna Doone.

Of all the faculties of the human mind, memory is the one that is most easily "led by the nose." There is a secret power in the sense of smell which draws the mind backward into the pleasant land of old times.

If you could paint a picture of Memory, in the symbolical manner of Quarles's Emblems, it should represent a man travelling the highway with a dusty pack upon his shoulders, and stooping to draw in a long, sweet breath from the small, deep-red, golden-hearted flowers of an old-fashioned rose-tree straggling through the fence of a neglected garden. Or perhaps, for a choice of emblems, you would better take a yet more homely and familiar scent: the cool fragrance of lilacs drifting through the June morning from the old bush that stands between the kitchen door and the well; the warm layer of pungent, aromatic air that floats over the tansy-bed in a still July noon; the drowsy dew of odour that falls from the big balm-of-Gilead tree by the roadside as you are driving homeward through the twilight of August; or, best of all, the clean, spicy, unexpected, unmistakable smell of a bed of spearmint--that is the bed whereon Memory loves to lie and dream!

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Why not choose mint as the symbol of remembrance? It is the true spice-tree of our Northern clime, the myrrh and frankincense of the land of lingering snow. When its perfume rises, the shrines of the past are unveiled, and the magical rites of reminiscence begin.

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Little Rivers
Henry van Dyke

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