A couple of weeks ago, a box arrived from my cousin with birthday gifts for my daughter. When I opened it the smell of her house filled the air. I was immediately back there. Her home smells like clean linen and a bit of powdery lavender with hint of pine and humidity. We live almost 2,000 miles apart, but the scent travelled in the box as surely as if it were carefully packed and placed there. Strange how that happens.
We recently took a little trip to Mammoth Lakes, and the smell of that place flooded me. I didn’t remember it until we got there. It’s the smell of clear mountain air, pine, scrub brush, volcanic ash, with a little bit of campfire. We’ve visited Mammoth off and on for over 20 years now, but rarely in the Summer. I just sat on the balcony each morning deeply smelling the air until it was time to do something else.
Thoughts of place have been in the forefront of my mind lately. The new Rune Soup Premium Members Course is “Custodianship”, so thinking about home, garden, dwelling places, and community is timely. Coupled with the amount of time that my family and I been spending at home, it seems right to attempt to define a mission statement for what “Home” should be for our family and what kind of feel or ambience we co-create with the place where we dwell. These are nascent thoughts surely to evolve by the end of the course; it’s so much fun to go on these adventures.
I had been thinking of Place mostly in Visual Terms (What does this room look like? its style) and also in terms of Purpose and Feel (Home as a Nurturing Base Camp, Artist / Scientist Workshop). After these encounters with the sense of smell, I’ve started to imagine Place more fully to include Smell and Sound and to consciously engage with both.
Inspired by Diana “Jupiturn” Rose’s (@ddamascenaa) recent Twitter thread on Perfumes and Astrology (https://twitter.com/ddamascenaa/status/1284286940221632513?s=20) , I started wearing perfume again. I had forgotten how much I loved it, and I can’t stop smelling my wrist throughout the day. When I put on one particular scent, my first reaction was – “This smells like me!”. Not literally, that would be weird. But like – “If I were a scent, this would be the scent I would be.” Since I am a part of the place where I dwell, this smell blends into the house dust, golden retriever, dry air, lavender, sandalwood, sweet children, good cooking, lemon blossom, warm morning sunshine scent of the house.
Then there’s the recordings of Ambient and ASMR Sounds that I’ve found on YT. I’ve been listening to them all week and enjoying them immensely. With titles like – “Magical Tearoom ASMR Ambience”, “Rainy Night Coffeeshop”, “Bakery ASMR”, and “1870s Victorian London Thunderstorm”, my mood has been much better overall. These recordings blend into the house and neighborhood sounds of video games, crows, dog paws on hardwood floors, giggles, cabinets opening and closing, lawn movers, cars, leaves, and friendly conversations.
By acknowledging scent and sound with the same frequency as I do with the visual, I feel more connected in place, like a stitch in the fabric of it. As the sound and scent subtly changes throughout the day, new ideas and possibilities emerge. Most of them are just at the edge of my fingertips. Any effort to grasp them push them just slightly out of reach, but the shadow of understanding is there. That’s enough for now. I know that more will come.