For many years now, I’ve wondered why roses no longer smell as sweetly as they used to, that they frequently have no smell at all, so I looked for answers on the internet, and here’s what I learned from my smart phone.
There are at least three reasons why, these days, a rose is not a rose is not a rose, and why a rose by any other name no longer smells as sweet. First, roses are now being “cultivated to last longer in a vase, and the rule of thumb is, that the stronger the smell the lesser the vase life.” Second, horticulturists have been breeding roses with larger flowers, and “one side effect of this breeding is that the larger roses don’t have the smell that the smaller roses had.” Third, when two separate species of roses are hybridized, you get a new species and “this often takes the scent out of it.”
Naturally, this started me thinking about human beings, and how many among us spend a lot of money to make sure we don’t offend others by our smell. Can we learn anything about ourselves from what’s happened to roses? As science keeps us alive longer, do we begin to smell less as nonogenarians than when we were toddlers? Does the same thing happen when we outgrow our scrawny teenage selves and blossom out to our full physical potential on the buffet line? Finally, do the children of mixed marriages have no use for underarm deodorants?
Here’s one more thing. With Christmas fast approaching, there is no shortage of pine trees for sale in front of hardware and grocery stores. Have you noticed that, as you walk by them, none of these antiseptic evergreens exude any hint of pine or camphor? In the late 1960s, there were popular protest songs which asked questions like “What have they done to the rain?” and “Where have all the flowers gone?” Sad to say, “The answer is blowing in the wind.” Nuclear arms continue to proliferate; and deadlier wars are now killing more people than ever—in schoolyards and college campuses, in movie theaters and shopping malls, in bars and restaurants, in health clinics and convention centers, on the very streets of the cities where we live.
Yes, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” but it doesn’t smell or feel like Christmas. Not anymore.