I’ve hinted a couple of times in this blog that I recently moved. Up until November of last year, I lived in Canada where the winters ensured anything that would flower or pollinate would be hibernating for six to eight months out of the year. The rest of the year, I’d be bundled up in multiple layers and waiting at a platform to take me downtown where I worked. This made it very difficult to smell things like flower and nature. However, before Canada, I lived in Vietnam. If there ever was a place where I could smell nature–all the goods and bads of it–it was 1980s Vietnam.
I was very young when I left for Canada so there wasn’t much time to develop a concrete visual memory of the place. What they say about scent being a vehicle for memories is absolutely true. Where I can’t remember an accurate image of the little farm in Vietnam, I can remember how things smelled.
One of my favorite smells to this day is wood smoke and rain. The farmhouse I lived in had a wood burning stove and every day that stove would come on crackling with fire before the myriad of food smells envelop the kitchen from my grandmother’s cooking. Sometimes it would be raining when the stove was on, mixing the smell of wood smoke and water to form this beautiful warm smell. I suppose I grew to love this smell because it’s comforting and nostalgic and reminds me of a time when things I didn’t understand could have magical explanations. Like when it rains then that means the sky is crying.
About a year ago and a very long time since I’d last smelled wood smoke and rain, there was a series of wildfires smoldering in Western Canada. I was on my way to work, and there had been a bit of early morning rain that had begun to roll out. That was when that same smell hit me and sent me back to that smoky little kitchen on that farm with the soft rain hitting the tin roof.
This blog had been going on for a little while at the time I had rediscovered wood smoke and rain and I was searching for something I could call, “my favorite scent”. Well, I found it a long time ago–I just didn’t know it yet. Then I rediscovered it one morning on a rainy day in Canada. Now if only someone could bottle that stuff!
Ah, the magic of evocative smells strikes again. Such a surprise when a scent from the past sneaks up on you unexpectedly.
The wood smoke and rain perfume would sell well if it could be bottled.
cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh
Hi Anna, thanks for leaving a comment! I do wish wood smoke and rain was around more often. It’s comforting and nostalgic. Do you have a scent that sneaks up on you from the past?
For me it is the smell of peat fires in the drizzly damp of Ireland, which is actually pretty close to what you were struck by: the promise of warmth and shelter suggested by the smoke of the distant hearth, and getting to it through the drizzle or rain.
If it could be done just right, I’d spring for a bottle of scent that conjured them up, definitely.
cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh
Sounds like such a smokey rainy scent would at least have two fans! I’m happy to see a kindred spirit in my love of woodsmoke and rain. 🙂