“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles
and all the years you have lived.
— Helen Keller
What is it about smells that takes us away instantly to another place or time? Why can scents also affirm “Yes, this is the place”?
There are aromas peculiar to travel. Jet exhaust at the airport excites even the youngest travelers. The greasy fumes from a highway rest stop say “Road Trip!” as nothing else can. The oily, steely smells of the subway still mean City to this small town girl. And there is the unique scent of people just off an airplane; perhaps it is the filtered but recycled air infusing the clothing that extends their trip after they arrive.
There are countless scents of destinations. There is the fecund smell of decaying marine life of city waterfronts – often mixed with the fragrances from the waterfront restaurants cashing in on the location. These are easily distinguished from the fresh salt-air breeze of an open beach. I enjoy the wide-open, Midwestern scents of cornfields and new mown hay. The valleys of California exude the scent of the imported eucalyptus trees. New Mexico and Arizona have a wonderfully dry sage and pine aroma outdoors. Farther north in the Rockies a variety of other forest scents prevail.
Then there are specific destination smells which can endear you to a spot forever. A former colleague and I used to administer our own Aroma Therapy for stress by sniffing bars of bayberry soap from Colonial Williamsburg! For my husband the orange blossom scent of Coppertone suntan lotion will forever speak of spring break in Florida. I have brought home sachets of lavender from Croatia but have never stood in a field of the purple blooms as friends have in Southern France. For all my dedication to coffee, there is a special place in my heart for a pot of English tea in the morning.
Depending on your own experience with the “atmosphere” as you travel, your response to any of these might be “Wow, I’m in someplace new.” Or it could be “I have come home.”
What scents do you especially remember from your travels? What smell transports you to a remembered time or place? Which aromas would you love to revisit? Call me to arrange the trip!
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
8 January 2015