Monday, March 28, 2005

smells like beach music

There's a scene in Pat Conroy's Beach Music (one of my all time favourite books) where a father teaches his daughter to navigate around their neighbourhood piazza purely by what she can smell. I was thinking of that as I walked around my neighbourhood the other day. Most days my neighbourhood smells like cedar and salt water, especially if it has rained recently which it usually has. This time of year you can smell the daffodils by the library, fresh cut grass and turned soil. You can smell coffee from Starbucks, and then the coffee from the Candelight Grill and then a little farther down the block the coffee from the Salt Cellar (makers of most excellent deli sandwiches). Sometimes if you breathe at the wrong moment you get a lung full of exhaust, or wet dog but it doesn't happen very often. I swear some days you can actually smell the rain.

There is something incredibly peaceful about this place. Every time I'm out in it I can hear a whisper saying "slow down, breathe deep". Somewhat tragically it reminds me of what used to be on the wall at the Starbucks on the way to work: "Speak softly, people will listen, take your time the world will wait." Most of the time people won't wait, but when I walk around my neighbourhood I very often choose to walk alone. And I will wait. And I never make myself rush when I'm out there. I know that it won't always be like this. There won't always be the big tree out back hung with lanterns, or the myrtle climbing over the rocks or the branches from the holly tree trying to grab hold of my hammock. But they are here now, and I am here and I have no intention of wasting it.


rob said...

Man, I've gotta quit reading your posts. It reminds me of the good old days (assuming the "old days" are about 3 months ago!). What a beautiful place you live in.

But I got a question...if is smells like beach music in Vancouver, what does it smell like in Seattle? Teen spirit?

Here I am now. Entertain me.

westcoastloon said...

You know I knew the Nirvana reference was going to be too hard to ignore, but I just couldn't resist.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms Westcoastloon,

You mention in your blog the importance of remembering certain places that maybe in the future you may not be able to access but the memory is worth keeping.

Back around the time just before you were born I was working in a little place called Altami, in north east Wales. Norwest Holst, the company I was working for at the time had a design office a little way outside of the steel works where we did most of our work. The idea was that we would be able to do other jobs from there and not be in a conflict of interest. Anyhow I digress.

Coming home to Chester from this place involved driving over the Clwydian Hills. On the far side was a vista whereby you could literally see for miles. You could see the routes of the roads and railway lines, but they seemed minute in the overall scale of things. Even the big trees merged into green blobs. The fields with their hedges and fences, some with animals, some with crops, made a remarkable pattern across the landscape. To the south east you looked across the vast Cheshire Plain, probably 30 miles to the next line of hills. To the north you could see the River Mersey, the Manchester Ship Canal and the beginnings of the oil refineries dotted along the water's edge. I remember thinking at the time, I will never have such a delightful commute and to date I never have. But because I made a conscious effort to remember the views, they have always been with me. Something to savour when I have the time to ponder.

Thankyou for reminding me of that lovely view.

Savour those moments they are very precious.

Lots of love
Dad xxx