For those who love fragrances, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Frederick County, Maryland offer a storehouse of essential oils. They are best sampled on the blue ridges themselves, high up, where their source plants best grow; and in spring, when the oils surge to life.
A short walk, whether on the Blue Trail through the Frederick Watershed or the Catoctin Trail in Catoctin Mountain Park, exposes a curious wanderer to a coalition of fragrant botanical agents. There is sassafras, sweet fern, sweet birch, trailing arbutus, wild azalea, mountain pine, wintergreen; and later on in summer, hayscented fern and blue mountain tea.
These essential oils await everywhere underfoot and overhead. A deer rubs its horns on a pine and sweet sap oozes out. An icestorm breaks open the wintergreen scent of sweet birch or uproots a sassafras tree, unearthing root beer fragrance. Boots flatten the outdoor moss terrarium hosting the classic perfume of trailing arbutus.
This is the nursery of the informed person who truly experiences nature. This is the escape from a bland world where pesticide odor overwhelms the faint fragrance of high-tech flowers in parking lot garden centers.