Very few of us have the good fortune to live as adults in the same places we knew so intimately as children. Set me in some other landscape, one of rolling hills or towering evergreen woodlands, and I can imagine myself reeling and disoriented, wondering from which direction the scent of salt water will come.
The landscape of one’s childhood is all magic and heart. For me, that magic is more about the smell of seaweed than of hay. It comes from knowing where the masses of swallows will gather in late summer or when to find scoters and scaup playing at the edge of the sea or which stand of beach plum produces every year regardless of the vagaries of weather.
This deep intimacy with a place is learned slowly; little bits of wisdom accumulated by observing the rhythms of days and years until one’s fluent with the language of a place. Anywhere else I’d miss the clamor of laughing gulls and the fall bloom of the groundsel tree, the hiss of wind across the dunes and the greening of the cordgrass in late spring. I’d miss the presence of the sea and the smell of that magical muck as the tide shrinks.
What intimate details do you recall from the landscape you grew up in? Things that only a child could know… maybe it’s the sweet scent of honeysuckle, the glow of tamaracks in fall, a pale moon in the desert, or the taste of windfall apples… tell me what you remember and long for.