The Spice of Life

I love spices – part of the allure of travel includes exploring another country’s cuisine with its different spices. For my own cooking, I use lots of home-grown herbs and spices: onions and garlic in baskets, dried basil, tarragon, sage, parsley, and oregano in small glass jars; powdered dried orange zest and basil pesto kept in the freezer. defines spice as any pungent or aromatic substance of vegetable origin (like pepper, cinnamon, or cloves), used as a seasoning or preservative; something that gives zest; a piquant or interesting element or quality; a small quantity or trace of something.

It is that “piquant or interesting” spicy quality I am enthralled by, the question “What is the spice of life?”

hot peppers

In the sci-fi series “Dune” by Frank Herbert, “the spice” (or melange) is an addictive substance that gives people longevity and psychic powers. It is very rare and extremely dangerous to harvest. Once you are addicted to spice, you cannot let go of it. Withdrawal will kill you. In Herbert’s world, spice is essential for interstellar travel and galactic commerce (Wikipedia).

So what is it that constitutes spice in our life? What adds that buoyant extra to our ordinary existence that we are all looking for – interest, excitement, mystery, adventure, marvel, awe, bliss? I suppose the degree of spice could range from something that gives us a good belly laugh to a peak experience of deep love or profound insight.

Spice packets

What happens when spice is lacking and we are facing the same tasteless dish every day – same old routine, same old faces, same old conversations? We grow bored, restless, dissatisfied, and probably depressed. We look for anything to lift us out of this almost unbearable dullness – a pill, alcohol, a sports event, TV shows highlighting other people’s fictional but exciting lives, a fast car or motorcycle, creating some kind of drama in our family or circle of friends – anything to escape the boredom of ordinary life.

clove flowers drying

Some people actually like routines, are comforted by them and would be reluctant to add spice to their life, especially an unfamiliar one. But for most of us, what would our world be like without that Marco Polo spirit, the courage to risk falling off the edges of the horizon?

spice rack

There are the truly large, once-in-a-lifetime adventures: Leaving one’s home country behind to move to a new place in the world; setting off on a walk across the continent, riding a motorcycle around the world, quitting a secure job to try a totally different lifestyle are just a few examples I can think of.

But we don’t (always) have to travel the seven seas or into outer space to add spice to our life. Small doses of spice often do the trick.

vanilla beans and baskets

For me, a walk in the woods and an occasional encounter with a wild animal are cayenne-pepper hot; exploring a botanical garden or a small stream spell ginger and coriander adventure; inviting a friend for coffee and exploring interesting topics or talking deeply about our inner experiences add cinnamon and clove warmth to my day; watching a sunset paint wild colors across the horizon sprinkles Italian seasoning on my evening; seeing my orchids bloom in the bleakest part of winter splashes my sun-deprived days with rose water and lavender perfume; losing myself in a really good book or exceptional movie adds Chinese Five Spice depth and complexity; following a meaningful discussion in my Facebook feed adds genuine vanilla flavor to my day; discovering an artist I’d never heard of before infuses my own creativity with the best garam masala.

basket of spices copy

Such experiences are some of my life’s spices at the moment. There have been other spices during earlier phases of my life and I suspect that moving into my elder years will surprise and delight me with others still unknown.

yarrow and choco inversion

What about yours?

Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week: Spice.

About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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27 Responses to The Spice of Life

  1. shoreacres says:

    What a delightful post. You mentioned two things that I’ve found to be true: it’s not necessary to find life’s spice only in the large and extravagant experiences, and what pleases us does change as we age. Cherishing the smaller, the slower, and the more subtle isn’t necessarily the end of all pleasure. Only a touch of garlic or clove can make a dish just right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the colorful photos and the thought-provoking content. I, too, look for the spice in life at every available opportunity. If we only open our eyes we can see such wonder all around us.


  3. Nomzi Kumalo says:

    Dear Annette may you have a new year filled with wonder and joy. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Exactly. Cherish the smallest moments because they are the spice of life. Wonderful post, Annette. Happy New Year from Ometepe Island.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful blog about the spice of life. Hope you find some new exotics this coming year, while holding onto the familiar ones.


  6. Love the thoughts, but all those photos – now I’m hungry! Thanks for the good post.


  7. Enjoyed your thoughts and I will think about them for a bit…Have a wonderful 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Maria F. says:

    What beautiful colors, thanks for sharing them!


  9. Dalo 2013 says:

    I love the way you open this post ~ new ideas, cultures and people are truly a spice of life, and not a better way to experience it than with a new cuisine. A beautiful way to bring in the New Year ~ great photo, story and colors. Cheers to a great 2016.


  10. A fresh way to start the new year. The connecting points and associations work beautifully. Thanks for following my blog! #gratitude


  11. bythebriny says:

    One of the joys of cooking or baking process is the aroma of the spices added to the dish. Happy New Year to you!


  12. Some of our favorite, as we live in Mexico!

    Liked by 1 person

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