The trend in home furnishings nowadays is towards a homier, earthy décor. Softer lines, earth tones, real wood and a back-to-basics approach contribute to a warmer and cozier home atmosphere.

Home accessories, too, follow this pattern, as wicker baskets, fragrant candles, inviting plants and patterned quilts or throw pillows abound.

Potpourri has become a popular outgrowth of this trend. Aisles upon aisles of home décor stores are filled with containers of varying shapes, hues and odors of potpourri. Bags of spiced leaves, chips of aromatic wood mixed with dried fruit combinations exhume an alluring earthy scent.

Lining the shelves, as well, is a whole array of containers to hold the potpourri. There are enough shapes, sizes and materials — from glass, crystal, wrought iron, wood and more —to please every discerning style.

Bring the potpourri into your home and the aroma is instant. Open up those bags and you've unleashed a nostalgic fragrance of the best that nature has to offer.

So, deciding to spice up my home in the midst of a gloomy, cloudy and endless winter, I bought some potpourri. A small investment, I figured, to bring some of nature inside when the surrounding outdoors was bare and desolate.

I arranged the combinations in strategic locations throughout my home and was instantly rewarded with the scent of rustic nature. Several of my children commented on how nice the smell was. My youngest, in particular, was entranced by the combination of color and aroma and pressed his little nose up against the leaves.

It happened slowly. So slowly, in fact, that we almost didn't notice. But a couple of weeks later, during my routine morning tidying, with my youngster following at my heels, I realized that the fragrance had faded. In fact, it was almost entirely gone.

As if on cue, my four-year old asked, "Why don't the leaves smell anymore like they used to?"

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"I have an idea," I suggested. "Let's try to shake them up. Then I think they will smell again."

So, the two of us went around our house poking and rubbing the contents of the containers. To our satisfaction, the more we poked or shook the leaves, the more of the original outdoor aroma returned to our home.

"Why does the smell come back when we rub it?" my son inquired.

"Well the smell is inside the leaves, but it only comes out when you rub." I explained. "It's like a rose," I continued. "Do you know why the rose bush has thorns?"

He shook his head, eyes listening intently.

"The rose grows among the thorns, so that the thorns rub against it. When they rub it, its fragrance emerges — just like the potpourri."

Walking around with my child, I realized something integral from these simple containers of potpourri.

Every individual has an exotic aroma of potential within. Each of us is a potpourri combination, made up of unique qualities and traits.

But there is nothing in life that does not require constant maintenance. We, too, require regular effort to exude the best of our personalities, talents and characteristics.

Moreover, sometimes it's the pokes, thorns and shakeups which life so suddenly — and disturbingly — throws at us. that bring out the best in each of us.