The Fragrances of Home

Published at 09:44 on 6 October 2011

One thing my recent trip to New Mexico allowed me to appreciate anew is how the air is scented with the fragrance of conifers in the Pacific Northwest. Some, like the western red cedar, are fragrant enough and distinctive enough that they can be olfactorily appreciated from several hundred feet downwind.

It’s one thing I enjoyed when first moving to this ecoregion from a desert climate. Like most such phenomena, one fairly quickly loses the ability to perceive it if one continuously lives amongst the sensation. Spending a week in a dry, dusty place was enough to “reset” my nose so that I can perceive it anew, at least for a brief time.

Even when it rains in the desert, much of the odor I can perceive in the moist air is one of wet dust. Even amongst the delightful fragrance of sage, it is there, reminding me that this respite from the dryness and dustiness is but a brief departure from the normal scheme of things. It is an underlying veiled threat that removes much of the pleasure I would otherwise receive from such weather.

There is no such threat in the moist air of the beginning rainy season here. The pervading fragrance, even in many quite urban areas, is the woodsy and coniferous one of a lush land that nourishes my senses instead of assaulting them.

It’s good to be home.

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