Patchouli is the fragrance that instantly brings me back to the hippie era of the late 60's and early 70's. The other night I sat next to a friend wearing that oil at a conference and the smell came back to me in all its power. Where do you find it these days I wondered. There's one old head shop called Terrapin Point. Its window cases are filled with water pipes and assorted paraphernalia. Somewhere in that shop there must be some to be found.
Did patchouli originally become popular to mask the smell of weed? These days the smell of weed is so potent these days nothing could disguise it. It hangs over parking lots and wafts up from my downstairs neighbor on occasion. So patchouli belongs to that more innocent age.
. Catching the smell of patchouli the other night brought me back to my sister's visits home from college. After years of ironing her hair and dressing in outfits she sewed herself, she was now in worn out denim jackets, and jeans, the smell of patchouli following her into our rustic country world.
She brought home albums from Blind Faith and War while I was listening to Joni Mitchell and Harry Chapin. We'd sit in her care and smoke cigarettes (not joints). Cigarettes were taboo enough for women in the Latvian culture back then. The first inhale left me dizzy but I rather liked the sensation.
So patchouli ushered in a new world, far removed from cattle grazing, my mother's long illness, and my father's old country strictness.
Years later on a visit to a flower show at the Botanical Gardens, I found a patchouli plant for sale in the gift shop. I had no idea such a plant even existed and I couldn't resist buying it. The salesclerk said," Thank you for buying that. I hate the smell"
But for me, patchouli was the unforgettable scent of freedom!