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Thread: Vacation Smells

  1. #1

    Default Vacation Smells

    I returned from a ten-day vacation earlier this week. I was in the woods without telephone, without Internet, without running water, and without clocks. I was in the woods of northern Minnesota, USA, in a lakeside cabin my dad built in the 1960s. It was a great time, and what made it more magical for me were how the smells of the place, its vegetation, and its winds made the vacation all the richer for me.

    I wonít say that my experience talking about and thinking over fragrances here at Basenotes made me notice the smells of the place I went to, but once there I was shocked at how much what I smelled contributed to my feeling of the place and realization of how special and far away from my regular life it was. Thanks to talking about the effect of fragrances here, I simply reveled in the experiences of my nose and I tried hard to get everyone with me to experience the vacation through their noses too.

    Vacation destination posters are made to please the eye. Movies filmed in exotic places show us eye-candy. National Geographic magazine shows pictures. But youíre not there, youíre not in a place, youíre not able to see that it is completely different and an engine of unique thoughts, unless you can smell it. And when you can, what a difference it makes.

    Rolling black dirt ground covered by blankets of soft, velvet green moss. The dry flaky mossy growth on the sides of trees and the soft, thick, almost damp bark under the dry, light olive flaky moss pedals.
    Lake water up your nose from falling into it backwards or diving deep. The different way the water smells four inches under your nose depending on if its shady evening or sunny afternoon as you paddle to keep afloat. Eight inches higher and it would smell different.

    Wood smoke. Pine groves in the sun, in the rain. Rain on the damp ground and all the leaves. The sun burning the rain off old wooden planks. Coffee. Potatoes. Soap as you lather and bathe in the lake in the morning sun.

    Thereís surely some grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence jealousy going on here, and after all, I WAS on vacation, but the richness of the difference, the way I knew being there wasnít at all like being in my apartment, truly what made being there different from changing a channel, shifting a theater scene, was what Iíve learned about the power of the nose, and Iíve learned it here.

    All Basenotes members will notice the same thing in their coming travels and experiences of places.
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Vacation Smells

    Wow, great writing, thanks.

    I love the smell of th city in a similar fashion. The fumes from gas are lovely - I do believe many agree. And nothing beats the smell of rain on hot asphalt a summer day.

    MMM - The eternal urbanite [smiley=cool.gif]

  3. #3

    Default Re: Vacation Smells

    So that is where you were! How were the skeetos and black flies?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Vacation Smells

    Chris, I feel like I've been on vacation just reading your descriptions. Thanks for the journey.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Vacation Smells

    Thanks for the good words, and believe me, I wasn't thinking of SOTD choices. Wow it was a great time. Good food, a girlfriend cured of fear of crapping in an outhouse, a canoe, and plenty of time for reading books.

    Skeeters? Oh ya you betcha. I got a half-dozen bites each day but got to use my control of the itch relief cream to extort good behavior from my girlfriend. A few of the skeeters were the size of quarters (the USA's quarter-dollar coin). The bites aren't too bad but hell is at night when there's a mosquito buzzing around your head in bed picking a place to land.

    The black flies. How do those things develop such excellent reflexes? You can't get your hand a foot from them without them taking off to bug you with another pass. I killed a few when they landed on my swimming trunks and tried to bite my ass, but they were still wiggling on top of the water after my swat. The trick with these buggers, which are often buzzing around at the edge of the lake, is to submerge with a long breath so they forget your head was even there and fly away. Sometimes it is hard to hold your breath that long though. But the reflexes on those flies, I tell ya. I've been in some places with really dumb flies, but like Garrison Keilor says about all the children in Lake Woebegon, the flies up there are above average.

    Sometimes the pine groves smelled like the old version of Guerlain's Vetiver too. It was heaven.
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Vacation Smells

    Thanks for your vacation report Chris! I perfectly understand what you mean because I feel it every time I go to the countryside to visit my parents: no lakes here, but by the end of may it's a smelling paradise: fresh cut grass, hay, angelica, thorntree and danewort blossoms, iris and much more. I adore it!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Vacation Smells

    Quote Originally Posted by DustB
    a girlfriend cured of fear of crapping in an outhouse
    LMAO! This reminded me of a Boy Scout trip when I was a kid--we took a Coleman lantern to the latrine, tied it to a 12 foot rope, and lowered it into the "hole." HORRIFYING. [smiley=shocked.gif]

    Re: vacation smells--a few years ago I visited my cousin in Lake Tahoe. He lives like a hermit, i.e. almost totally off the grid in a cabin near the top of a mountain. The place is stunning. The thing that amazed me most upon my arrival--once I caught my breath in the thin air--was the *cleanliness* of the air. I felt like I was breathing pure oxygen from a tank. It reminded me of the mountaintop where Grenouille flees in the Susskind novel "Perfume."
    Top 3: London Gentleman, Blackbeard's Delight, and Sex Panther. (It works 60% of the time, every time.)

  8. #8

    Default Re: Vacation Smells

    I'm looking forward to returning to home in Upstate New York the first week in October. It will be the first time I've gone back during the fall, and my first fall experience there since 1996. The first week in October is when the foliage in the area starts to hit its peak, and I plan to make a trip to my uncle's cabin in the Adirondacks, which I've never been to during the fall.

    The colors, sights, sounds, and I'm sure scents (outhouse included!) will be a welcome break from Las Vegas. I do miss the crisp mornings where you would wake up and everything was crystal clear, including the morning air. As a kid, it was always fun when the first frost came, because the green grass sort of had me thinking of what Mother Nature would look like if she stopped dying her hair. Puddles would have the slightest layer of ice over them, and just hearing it crack when you put pressure on it was a foreshadow of the winter yet to come.

    But I think it's the smell of autumn and harvest season that captures the spirit. The smell of the leaves falling and needing to be raked, or if you were on the outskirts of the town, you could smell them being burned in backyard fires. The smell of pumpkin, apple, and spice as Halloween grows closer. Heck, you can even smell leather in the air as the pigskin gets tossed around the yard.

    It's great to be able to associate certain smells with times of the year, and this thread certainly got me thinking of all those things about fall that I miss back home that I'm looking forward to seeing. Perhaps I'll bring along my bottle of Bel Ami, as I recall Scentimus once said it gave off that aura of leaves being burned--just a single spray is enough to make me think of October and yearn to be a kid again playing in the leaves.

    The Bark Bites Back here -->

  9. #9

    Default Re: Vacation Smells

    I agree--Egoiste and Gucci PH both bring me back to my college days in Nashville--especially the cool fall/winter months. [smiley=smiley.gif]
    Top 3: London Gentleman, Blackbeard's Delight, and Sex Panther. (It works 60% of the time, every time.)

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