"One sniff and you'll forget your woes,
praying to be entirely nose."
Catullus, Songs 13
name is Sue-Ryn Hildenbrand-Burns, and for about--or over--30 years now I've
been offering a growing list of delights and necessities through the
mail with my company, Hill Woman Productions. HWP offers a wide variety
of herbal goods, but I'm probably best known as a chooser and blender of
scents. There are myriad suppliers out there, and I buy from quite a few
of them, striving to offer
the best value in any particular essential oil for my own use and
Perhaps you have learned the hard way that, for example, not all Patchoulis are created equal. I probably have samples from several different suppliers for most of the oils I stock, and I'm sampling new oils all the time. When I find something that makes my eyes light up, I try to offer it to you.
Some of my earliest memories are entwined with the scents of the Earth. Burning autumn leaves, the heady smell of needle-carpeted ground under the huge pines I climbed as a young child, the richness of the soil in my
mother's vegetable gardens, the sassafras leaves my dad handed me on one of our many walks, the scent of the Atlantic on early, uncrowded mornings; all are filed away with memories and fond emotions. I was closer to the ground then. It was easy.
years and moves later, I live on an island in the St. Lawrence River,
and I still have a deep appreciation for the fragrances of my
Most of the inspirations for my various blends have drifted my way from some part or season of this splendid planet. Creating scents is not a literal process; it is part science, part art, and perhaps even a little bit of magic.
White pine essential oil is not quite the same as the incense those grand beauties bestow on a lucky stroller. The essential oil does smell of moist rock, old earth, and yes, pine. . .
But a walk on the ridge among them smells of so much more, and that is where I want to take people. When I create a potpourri, bath, or aromatherapy formula I want to awaken the heart of the one who experiences it. I want to stimulate a fond memory, untie a knot, or provoke a vision.
have been practicing the art of blending oils for a long time, and each
of my Perfume blends has its own devoted following, as do my
Aromatherapy blends, and the Bath Salts, Spritzers, and Incense made
with them. Those who have been through my old booth at the Sterling
Renaissance Festival, seen me at shows, or visited my old shop, Northern Paradise, have had a chance to
experience my fragrant wares. For those who haven't, up to five samples
per order are available for $1 each plus S&H --see
Ordering, Shipping & Handling for more info.
27 years I was the herb lady at the Sterling Renaissance Festival. I was
invited to fill that position by the owners back when the booths were
mostly 6 x 6 sheds, the paths were dirt, and the landscape stayed green
most of the season. Friends had discouraged me from getting involved
with the faire. They said it would take up my whole summer show season
and it would never work because the festival was charging five dollars
just to get into the show. They were right about the first part.
It was really fun to be part of such a creative community of people who mostly valued the same things I did. The diversity of people who came to me for help or guidance through all those summers inspired some of my best work and encouraged many dimensions of growth.
Between new family responsibilities after my Mom's death in 2004 and becoming a NY State Wildlife Rehabilitator, and other changes stretched thin became stretched even thinner, and something had to give way to change. 2005 was my final season at the Sterling Renaissance Festival. There's a bit more about my leaving the faire at the faire page.
That show goes on into its next phase and so does mine.
At the end of 2007 I closed my shop, Northern Paradise, and sold the building.
Time. I have a lot going on, more and more time devoted to taking care of wild creatures as a Wildlife Rehabber, helping some of our aging relatives and friends (some of whom resemble wild creatures!), Library Board commitments, and trying to reclaim and expand some of the gardens we started long ago, occasional walks in the beauty of this place, instigation of creative play with my women friends, occasional appearances at new shows, and generally doing what's needed to keep ourselves alive and well like everyone else proved to be more important than the shop.
It's trite to say, but true. I am in transition. Other creative endeavors continue to keep me busy learning new tricks; I've gotten pretty good with a crochet hook and am playing with the pile of scrap fabric all these years have generated.
What I do know for certain about creativity is that it's very much like love: eternal. It is a river that will always find its way. I do have some creative projects going on, growing in fits and starts amidst my many other responsibilities. There are some writing projects developing. We will all just have to patiently wait and see what stays and what goes.
All my best, Sue-Ryn