Do you have a very favorite smell? Like, you go into a bookstore and breathe in a huge, yoga type breath, and you’re transported by the smell of new books and coffee to a happy place? I have a few of those smells in my life. Apple scented candles transport me instantly to back-to-school time; something about apples being ripe and being canned in my mother’s kitchen when I was a child, right around the time I started school every Fall. Bookstores, coffee, libraries, they all evoke strong memories of happy times in my life.
But the best smell of all for me, of all time, is the ocean.
When I was little my family made a pilgrimage, almost annually, across the deserts of Utah, Nevada and California (and a couple times up the coast to Oregon, Washington and Canada) to reach the Pacific Ocean. My mother’s family is all from the San Francisco area, and there’s a love for the ocean in our family DNA that runs long and deep.
The first memory I have of the ocean is from the time my family spent two weeks in Monterey for Christmas vacation when I was 7. I remember vividly pulling up to an ocean-side cabin in the dark of night, after traveling with 7 siblings and my parents for the better part of 48 hours to reach California. My mother, desperately in love with the sea, opened all the windows to our very bare bones 11-passenger powder blue van so we could inhale the aroma she loved most in the world, the ocean.
I don’t remember what I thought about the smell of the ocean at the tender age of 7, but I knew there was something special about it because my mother throw back her head and inhaled deeply, ‘Do you smell that kids? It’s the most glorious smell in the world!‘
What I didn’t know at the time was that the oceanfront cabin we rented in Pacific Grove that Christmas, (literally across the street from the ocean, the Pacific Coast Highway) had been a part of her family for generations. The tiny little two-bedroom cabin, built in the early 1900’s, was a family gathering spot for my mother and her family as a small child, and that of my grandmother and great-grandmother. It’s a cabin my great-grandmother had tried to purchase in the 1940’s for the family; even then it was listed at over a million dollars.
Although The Cabin was never acquired, we still spent two weeks at The Cabin in Pacific Grove almost every other year, or whenever we could afford it. It’s a huge part of my life, The Cabin. And the first smell of the ocean that night in Monterey Bay, California ignited a life long love affair of the ocean and its glorious, delicious briny smell.
What’s your favorite scent in the whole world? What takes you back over decades of your life the instant you smell something familiar?
// But wait, there’s more! You can enter a photo and a story of your favorite scent to win a trip to Yosemite National Park. So go on, do that. It’s easy. If I could win a trip to smell the ocean, I would. //
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Arm & Hammer. The opinions and text are all mine.