The Air Smells a Bit Different Here

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Canada smelss. 

That's not an insult.  It really does smell; at least to me.  Different places have a different smell, just like they have a different feeling, a different vibe, a different pace.  I've been lucky enough to live on both ends of the country (more than once) and there's a HUGE difference. 

For me, the east coast is slower, more easy going, relaxed.  Things seem to get done when they get done.  Please note that when I say east coast, I mean the Maritimes, not Ontario or Quebec (they have a life all their own).  Nothing epitomizes the Maritimes, or "down home", to me more than Saint John, New Brunswick.  This city is the birthplace of both my parents.  My father's family still resides there for the most part.  My grandparents home was the last house at the end of a road set on a hillside with bigger hills and plenty of forest behind for us grandkids to explore.  From their place you could look out over a good portion of the city and the fog would roll in most mornings.  The smell of damp, dewy grass, the salty ocean air, and fish and chips instantly brings back some of my favourite childhood memories.  My father would take me down to the docks where there was a fantastic market place and we could buy dried dulce by the giant paper bagful - we were lucky if it would last more than a few months between the two of us.  The air out east is heavier, you can feel it encompassing you on really humid days; it smells (and feels) wet.

The prairies (aka home)?  Completely different.  Some of you are going to think perhaps I've lost my marbles but one of the most comforting smells to me is ... manure.  Yes, that's right, cow shit.  Nothing says you're home more than fresh cow pies floating on a cool summer breeze.  There was a distinct dividing line for us when we were moving out west from the Maritimes and it happened around Saskatchewan.  The air became fresher, lighter, and it carried the scent of cattle with it.  The prairies are slightly more fast paced than the eastern provinces although not nearly as hectic as Ontario or Quebec, for example.  The air here is dry, so dry that it makes your skin flake mercilessly in the winter.  On windy days, it can take your breath away - quite literally - when it hits you full in the face.  We get Chinooks in Alberta; warm wind blowing off the mountains from the coast that can raise the outside temperature 10C or more in a few hours.

So, which smells evokes the most emotion, the greatest reaction?  I honestly couldn't tell you.  I do love the smell of the ocean and it makes me think of sailing and freedom on the open seas but the smell of freshly mown grass or pine needles wafting across the edge of the prairies is sooo comforting.

What does it smell like in your neck of the woods and what smell instantly tells you "I'm home"?

2 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I love the smell of water. Which makes it so ironic that I live in a province that has about 3 lakes... But when I am at a lake, and I get the smell of the water in the morning mixing with the aroma of coffee in my cup = heaven.

mister anchovy said...

We can sometimes smell the lake - I mean Lake Ontario - which is very close to our house. It has 1,000 different smells depending on the weather and the time of year.

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