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Do You Know What Exquisite Means?

Out of the few things that bring me immense comfort in this world, besides a strong cup of Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea, is finding the precise word I need to describe something. Writing and reading is an exercise in exactness… to extract from the mind the single word, out of millions, to convey meaning, feelings, and information.

Sometimes a word is so complex, sophisticated and rich, that you cannot use another word to describe what it means. The word, “exquisite,” is a perfect example.

So, I asked my son, “do you know the meaning of the word exquisite?”

“It depends,” he said, “on the context.”

“When you fully experience the full impact of the word ‘exquisite,’ the context does not matter.”

Then, I asked him to smell a small bouquet of Lilly of the Valley I had just picked from the yard.

He actually paused after the first sniff, and he sniffed again. Such a subtle scent, unlike a rose or a lilac, that Lilly of the Valley causes you to stop, and savor the smell because you are so intrigued with this unusual scent that you want to absorb all of the notes it brings to the senses.

I told him — enjoy this — because these flowers come once a year — and they don’t last long. Their season is much more fleeting than even the lilacs.

“That’s what exquisite is. It’s so complex, sophisticated and so beautiful that the only way to describe it is with this one word, exquisite.”

So, the next time you have an experience, I told him, and you can’t find the precise words to describe how wonderful it was — remember this word… exquisite. Because some experiences, like the fleeting scent of Lilly of the Valley, can only be described as “exquisite.”

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