Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Everywhere I've ever lived or visited has its own particular scent. In Northern California it's the scent of fresh citrus and star jasmine, the smell of the earth after a rain, the salt tang of the ocean. In Utah it's the hard cold nose-freezing scent of a winter night, or the oxygen-rich green smell of an early summer morning. In Oregon it's the smell of moss and ferns, in Washington the rich smell of coffee and wetness and wood smoke.

England smells of flowers -- whether it's the roses and bulb flowers that grow everywhere, or the scent of many perfumes mingling at a Tube station...

or even the soft lilac scent of the soap in our homestay.

It also smells of smoke...

of ancient damp stone...

and centuries-old wood, of cheese and local sausages and fresh-made toffee peanuts. And I'm convinced that ancient marble has a smell of its own as well.

Gretel pointed out something while we were visiting. She said the ephemera of a particular country -- the small differences in wrapping and labeling and other bits and bobs of everyday living -- can be most fascinating to an artist. Though I don't consider myself particularly artistic, I have to agree. Many small things in England were different.

The soda was different.

The plugs were different.

The light switches were different (and much higher on the wall).

The drain covers were different.

Even (forgive me) the loo was different. (No wimpy 1.6 gallon potty, this. It was like a miniature typhoon every time you flushed.)

But most of all...

the chocolate was different. Oh yes, the chocolate was different.

Different, in this case, is good.

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