When I was thirteen I loved being Boy Scout. My father had been one and he wanted to pass some of that heritage along to me. Rich memories of those experiences have hung with me almost everyday of my life. It's safe to say that I wouldn't have started this company if I hadn't been a Boy Scout. Every summer we had a weekend camping trip to Baiting Hollow on Long Island. So many fond memories of that - hiking through the hardwood forests, up and down the small glacial hills, avoiding poison ivy at every step, making way over sandy bluffs to the LI Sound, campfires and the lake, exploring all day, learning the crafts that would later earn us our merit badges. One of my fondest memories was the way the forest would suddenly change. If you've ever hiked LI, you most likely would have taken notice to this. The way the light of the hard wood forests had turned darker under the canopy of pitch pines. The way it had gotten more quiet under the whisp of those deep, green trees and the way the bed of golden brown, fallen needles had silenced your foot falls. It was almost magical the way nature had subtly, both changed and stayed the same, all at once. It was in those pine forests were we would make ointment using the pitch collected from the trunks of those magnificent pines. As part of one of our wild crafting courses, our scout leader would walk us around in search of that sticky goodness. It wasn't easy back then (sad to say these days its very easy to find this pitch due to the beetle infestations) and it took some time to find even a little for our batches but after a few hours of walking around the woods we collected enough to render into a salve. We were taught, in the making of this, that the Native Americans of LI had used this pitch in many practical applications from everyday use to medicinal applications.
Simplicity is an essential key to our approach in most of our endeavors. When we are creating & layering our fragrances we are always thinking of the wonderful way different aromatics blend together to create complex & unique concoctions. We are purists & it is sometimes hard for us to take a plant essence, in it's original form, and blend away any possibilities these aromatics may unlock. Consider our Pine Barrens Cologne - a mix of over twelve plants & trees from the wilds of the NY & NJ pine barrens. At different times in any given day & more so the year, we traveled to these places and smelled the air. The way it captured & held different notes whether it be in the midday August sun or the dew of an autumn morning. It was a slow labour of love that took time to explore. It is what we do here at Barnaby Black but sometimes we want to do it easier. Sometimes we want a single plant or tree to sing its aromatic choir unhinged, on its own & in its purist form.
Our hand salves are our most simple approach to distilling the fragrance of the wilderness. We use raw & simple ingredients. Organic plant oils sourced from sustainable manufacturers, locally sourced beeswax from reputable bee keepers - people who care & manage apiaries with the upmost love & attention. And finally we come to the aromatics. The language of plants. We infuse every part of the plant or tree from the bark & resin to the leaf or needle & pitch. We macerate this to extract the beautiful green goo, the beautiful bark, dirt, moss & sap & we squeeze every last drop from the plant material we are using. We carefully blend these ingredients & hand pour every tin, essentially bringing to our customers the pure essence of one plant, fresh from the wilderness places of North America.
Our single plant studies are love songs - pure, unfiltered, admiration, of one species of plant or tree. One plant with so many scent notes locked inside its leaves, balanced by millions of years of evolution. A White Fir with resinous, tangerine notes that swirl & fade away into rich, sweetness. The sugar candy, richness of piñon pine pitch with notes of bright, warm sunshine. The medicinal qualities of black spruce or the papery, sweetness of white pine. All these aromas from one plant have their own diverse tapestry telling an olfactory story. The siren song that these species have perfected in the wilderness to attract us. To attract animals & insects to help them further their survival in their environments & habitats.
Our salves were our very first product on the market. They go back & tap into our heritage. From the humble beginnings to now they stand as our bedrock product. To enjoy these salves they are best used at room temperature. Simply run your nail across the top to scrape a small amount onto finger. Massage into weathered or dry skin for an all body moisturizing experience.
Traditions run deep. They swirl around in our collective imaginations and bring us to that cherished, nostalgic place. I wonder though, if these heirloom notions and warm traditions have become a burden on the environment.
Breath it in. Really look into it. Those pines. Now look at the nuances. Look at the smaller things - the post & chestnut oak, the pepper bush and fragrant bayberry, laurel & huckleberry, then even smaller - the viney greenbriar, cranberry, summer grape and the sweet fern. Even deeper, under the leaves of that underbrush, deeper to the forest floor, hiding under the shade of gorgeous blackberry and sassafras, the rare pink lady slipper orchid, the mosses and cinnamon fern, the tiniest of violets and British red coats.
Up at this elevation the bug didn't infect the firs. This was a comforting thought but a fleeting one because soon to follow was the impending knowledge that some day, in the not so distant future, the climate would warm just enough for those bastards to make their ways to these healthy stands.