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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Common and Sound Scents

Growing up, traveling vacations weren’t often part of the program.  Unlike other families who summered on Cape Cod or up in Maine, we spent time off from school enjoying the attributes of our hometown.  Once in a while though, we did get a trip away, say, a day on the Cape or the North Shore of Massachusetts.  

During those outings we knew we were getting close because when you get near the sea, the sky changes. The air becomes whitewashed as if scrubbed by a clean sponge and develops a subtle blue.  Everything ahead seems open and infinite, the bright air filmed with high mists.  We’d barrel along the highway and as soon as we noticed wind-stunted pines by the side of the road along with the change in the light, anticipation soared.  Stepping out we’d drink in the aroma of salt mixed with Rosa Rugosa, a robust sea rose that paints the air heavy with a tropical spice.  Always, the same bird song emanated from the marshes or tall sea grass.  A life time later, I can close my eyes, smell that scent, hear that sound and know with absolute certainty I am near the sea.

I’ve lived close to the shore my entire married life now—in the middle of that expansive sky.  Unless I’m coming back home from away, I no longer have the perspective to see it.  Rugosas populate the seaside landscapes around us though, and once June arrives and the first blossoms burst forth, I stick my nose into bushes knowing one breath will permeate my veins and conjure up the delight I first experienced during those precious trips away. 
The bird call is another story.  I hear it often and for years the up and down mix of trilling and chirping  has transported me back to childhood holidays.  Long ago, I set out to find out what kind of bird produced the sound I love, sure it was something exotic.  Over the years, I Googled bird websites and listened to their calls, Wrens, Orioles, Bobolinks, Tanagers, Terns, Cardinals.  I never heard anything close, until this week.  At work, every week we arrange speakers to talk to the seniors and this past Wednesday, two wild bird professionals gave a slideshow.  At the end, I spoke to one of the presenters.  “I don't even know what it looks like, but there’s this bird I remember hearing all the time on Cape Cod.  I hear it here too.  I have no idea what it is but I’d love to find out.”  I didn't have to say anything else.

Apparently in all my years of investigating, I never considered the sound that evokes such strong emotion in me could be something as ordinary as a Song Sparrow.  For the last few days, I’ve been playing this over and over.  Now if only there were a way to capture sky and smell.  

Happy Weekend All!


Manzanita said...

Enjoyed your post and that photo is beautiful. Everything about it, the building, the flower bush, the water and boats.... all beckon to one.

mshatch said...

I grew up in Norwell/Marshfield area, spent summers at Rexham and Peggaty Beach in Scituate, which your talk of rosa rugosa reminded me. I love that smell.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

There is something about the sky over the ocean. I feel that homecoming emotion whenever I drive through the mountains. It's so flat where I live now.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You never expected a common bird, did you?
The smell of the ocean has always stuck with me.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I grew up in Illinois and could always tell when we neared home after a vacation because of the smell of the river. I love the ocean smell too. I just love water, wished I lived near water now!

glnroz said...

I think I just took one of those "mini-vacations" you mentioned...I always enjoy checking and reading what ya have to say...thanks, glenn

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Oh, but I think you captured the sky and the smell quite well. I was transported.

I was born by the sea and spent my early childhood near it. It pains me some times to be so landlocked now. Though the midwest has its own beauty with its waving fields and the endless wind mills that dot the landscape, there's nothing quite like the sea. So much mystery and possibility. Thank you for painting that for us. I'm determined to make it up your way someday.

That song sparrow was beautiful, by the way. I can see how you'd listen to it all day, especially with all the memories attached.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I think for anyone who loves the ocean, certain evocative scents and sounds can really pluck at the ol' heartstrings. You did a great job capturing that concept. And I'm glad you found out your mystery bird is a sparrow. It's nice to know what's doing that heartstring-plucking, isn't it?

Reena said...

Isn't it so true trying to identify bird songs. Right now, there is one singing and for the life of me, I can't spot him . But it is enough to him him sing. Lovely post and images.