Tea Olive is a large nondescript bush. The flowers are tiny, and you could walk by one in bloom ten times and not even notice. It's the smell that gets your attention. So there you are in a certain spot, holding onto that last breath while you look this way and that. There it is! You walk up to it, see the small white flowers, put your nose in and breathe, expecting....But, hmmm. It's less rich than the aroma fifteen feet over that way. Tea Olive is funny that way.
As for myself I like to shake the hands of my friends; with a Tea Olive this means shaking a branch. Tea Olive leaves rattle when the branch is shaken. They really do - and it's a dead give away. So go ahead and rattle a Tea Olive today.
There is another thing I like about Tea Olives; they bloom several times a year, at least here in Columbia. But I have never really figured out why they bloom when they do, and it's unpredictable. So after a week or two of enjoying the aroma the blooms drop off and back to normal everything goes. You forget all about that big green bush over there. Until next time that is. You are once again minding your own business, caught up in some really important thing, and there it is again, that smell. It always seems to sneak up on you. It is always - in that first moment- unexpected. It is always a gift.
If you won't tell anyone I will confess to something else about smelling Tea Olive. Usually when I walk into a cloud of Tea Olive aroma hovering in the air, and smile, I always - always - think of my dear dear Grandmother Nanny. And some of those times I cry, just a bit, a tiny tear, not a sob. I miss my Nanny so much. But my tears always turn back to smiles because I think of her loving her Tea Olive so, especially that big one near to the side door to her kitchen. I can see her, getting out of her car in the garage near the kitchen door, being hit by the Tea Olive aroma, smiling, and knowing the same feelings I know. And then I feel close to her.
These days I don't have much, not even a yard of my own. But today I had a Tea Olive. It doesn't matter that it was someone else's Tea Olive because ownership is a lot more than the legal right to dispose of or bar others from enjoying something. As the Apostle Paul said, "All things are ours." Which means for me I get to be thankful that God has blessed my neighbor with such a wonderful plant, feel glad for him, and just enjoy that Tea Olive as if it were mine.
Hope you run into a Tea Olive Aroma today.