Early English settlers nearing the coast of Carolina in ships were enchanted by the smell. One wrote that it felt as if they were in a delicate garden.
Several miles out at sea, the eastern woodlands perfumed the air. These dense forests stretched from the Atlantic coast as far west as the Mississippi River, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Here, thick clusters of tall trees were home to a huge variety of animals. Thousands of miles of streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes jumped with fish.
It was a land of plenty for the American Indians who lived there. They fished and hunted, and they gathered wild foods in the forests. Near rivers, they settled in villages and cleared plots for gardens. Those living near the ocean harvested seafood, such as clams and oysters. They were rarely troubled by hunger or famine.
The forests gave them much more than food. Trees provided firewood, as well as wood and bark for building canoes, houses, weapons, and tools. The rivers and lakes let them travel far in their canoes. The eastern woodlands were indeed a sweet land of plenty.