Treasures of Aromatic Literature-Scent of the Sea by Various

Treasures of Aromatic Literature-Scent of the Sea by Various

The scent of the sea and the smells of the shipyards as they come up to me in the memory of far-off summer mornings! Many names and faces have grown dim, but these are as keen and clear as when a boy I breathed them in with delight as I took the steep road from my father's house and came speedily to the seats of romance.

These scents were the genii loci, the tutelary presences that guarded the mysteries that set us apart from the more prosaic world. We caught the scent of the sea first, which lay at the very foot of the street. There we turned sharply to the right, where one branch of the road led down to an old wharf, and the other passed on to the shipyards. At the junction stood a bucket-and-chain well, where we always stopped to drink. In front of the well lay a marine railway, where in retrospection I always see a team of horses plodding round and round before the bar of the windlass that almost imperceptibly drew a dingy hull from the water, I catch the swish of the brooms of men who stand under her as she slowly emerges, scrubbing away the barnacles and ocean slime. Everywhere about us in this region the earth was carpeted with chips, some darkened with age and dropping away into a woody dust, but some bright and freshly cut, still redolent with the odor of their special woods. We caught the odor of tar from long stretches of standing rigging, the pungent scent of coils of hempen cordage, the smell of tar and fresh paint. About us sounded the slurring chip-chip of adzes trimming the timbers along the chalked lines, the slow, loud clang of sledge-hammers driving home the iron bolts, the mellow ring of calkers' ironsand mallets echoing on the hollow decks, the thundering fall of a great piece of timber as the cant-hooks tumbled it down from the piled logs. We watched the slow rising of the great shears, and the stepping of masts. It was all a preparation for adventure in which we never lost interest.
from A Boyhood Alongshore

It was one of those " perfect days in June " of which the charming Lowell has sung so beautifully. The sun shone down pretty hot, it is true; but, in the grand old woods, the little that glimmered through was only enough to dispel the otherwise dampness, and give a warmth to the woody fragrance that was delightful indeed. And there came a scent of sea-air there also; for this delightful retreat, which was the eastern limits of Squire Grayson's farm, was washed by the waters of old ocean, and could boast of its terrific storms as well as its delicious calms. Even this afternoon, along with the scent of the sea, came a faint murmur, arising from the swirl of the water among the rocks that studded the shore in that locality, and which was known as " Merrill's Reef;" taking its name from Captain Merrill, whose vessel was driven upon the dangerous locality many years before, all hands perishing in the storm's fury.

The great old house of Drumgool, ugly as a barn, with a triton dressed in moss and blowing a conch shell before the front door, stands literally in the roar of the sea.

From the top front windows you can see the Atlantic, blue in summer, grey in winter, tremendous in calm or storm; and the eternal roar of the league-long waves comes over the stunted fir trees sheltering the house front, a lullaby or menace just as your fancy wills.

Everything around Drumgool is on a vast and splendid scale. To the east, beyond Drumboyne, beyond the golden gorse, the mournful black bogs, and the flushes of purple heather, the sun with one sweep of his brush paints thirty miles of hills.

Vast hills ever changing, and always beautiful, gone now in the driving mist and rain, now unwreathing themselves of cloud and disclosing sunlit crag and purple glen outlined against the far-off blue, and magical with the desolate beauty of distance.

The golden eagle still haunts these hills, and lying upon the moors of a summer's day you may see the peregrine falcon hanging in the air above and watch him vanish to the cry of the grouse he has struck down, whose head he will tear off amidst the gorse.

Out here on the moors, under the sun on a day like this, you are in the pleasant company of Laziness and Loneliness and Distance and Summer. The scent of the gorse is mixed with the scent of the sea, and the silence of the far-off hills with the sound of the billows booming amidst the coves of the coast.

Except for the sea and the sigh of the wind amidst the heather bells there is not a sound nor token of man except a pale wreath of peat smoke away there six miles towards the hills where lies the village of Drumboyne, and that building away to the west towards the sea, which is Drumgool House.
from Garryowen
By Henry De Vere Stacpoole

Along that low-lying coast that stretched in monotonous levels southward from the Boston of that day, the old farm-houses were far more numerous than the stately colonial mansions that skirted the Bay farther seaward.

Out of them, in the short, pale New England spring, when the arbutus was opening its pink buds in the pine woods along the shore and mingling its fragrance with the sea scent that was blown in by the east wind, came sturdy yeomen, who sailed away to the Banks or southward to the Cape, intent upon earning by honest toil a livelihood for the wives and children left behind; and when winter froze the earth and the dank marshes were dun and desolate, and the sullen sea roared, they returned — those that the sea had spared—to the shelter of their homes.
from A Widower &Some Spinsters

Walking, after the rain, on the cliffs towards Cadgwith, the air is at once salt and sweet; the scent of the sea and of the earth mingles in it; and it is as if one drank a perfumed wine, in which there is a sharp and suave intoxication. Overhead the sea-gulls curve in wide circles; you see them at one moment black against the pale sky, then white against the dark cliffs, then matching the flakes of foam on the sea as they fly low over it. They poise in the air, and cry and laugh with their mocking half-human voices; and are always passing to and fro in some rhythm or on some business of their own.
from A Valley in Cornwall
by Arthur Symons

I am in my garden at Fairshiels thinking that I see something of the beauty of this summer day. I know that if I could but tell of what I see and hear at this moment, the tale would be so full of wonder and magic, that the folks who read the words I set down would think that Fairshiels was the land of Goshen, and this shady spot in the manse garden, behind the old world kirk, was none other than the garden of the Lord. It is all that to me, because I love it. And yet it would be counted but a poor garden by some—a modest patch of earth enclosed, with shaven turf and shade of little trees, and roses enough and to spare, full of sunshine and the drone of bees. That is all. But, then, the finest thing in the garden is the view outside of it—as the Irishman would say. When one stands on the highest point, and looks towards the region of the rising sun, I think, on a summer day like this, it is no ill task to find an image for the inward eye, of the Land that is very far off with its sea of glass and its crystal stream. Across the raspberry bushes—and what a crop hangs there!—your eye will rest on one of the peacefullest outline of hills to be found in this broad Scots land. Lammer Law is our own hill—a quiet contented looking hill, with every shade of brown and purple painted upon its heathery brow. It is wonderful how high the ploughman climbs to steal a furrow from the face of Lammer Law, and to-day the brown heather moors on his brow are rolling away eastward, down and down, until the lowest blue spur of hills is lost in the quiet heat haze, where the scent of sea-wrack must almost come up on the wings of dawn to drench the heather-bells. What garden was ever yet complete without its south wall of red brick, where the apples and pears and plums hang ripening in the sun? And we have our south wall too, only the apples and pears and plums often sadly disappoint us after the flourish of trumpets they make in the spring. Over this red-brick south wall, with its bearded greenery, you will see six ash trees standing remote and still and solemn in the summer swelter. At the one end of these trees is Lammer Law, at the other end of them is the far-off line of the summer sea, and all behind them lies the eastern land of Lothian, with the bosky woods of Saltoun and Keith Marischal, in whose shady dells I could wager that the cushies are dovering in their noon-tide sleep.
from Fairshiels: memories of a Lammermoor parish
By Thomas Ratcliffe Barnett

OCTOBER 23. To-day I reached the sea. While I was yet many miles back
in the palmy woods, I caught the scent of the salt sea breeze which, although I had so many years lived far from sea breezes, suddenly conjured up Dunbar, its rocky coast, winds and waves; and my whole childhood, that seemed to have utterly vanished in the New World, was now restored amid the Florida woods by that one breath from the sea. Forgotten were the palms and magnolias and the thousand flowers that enclosed me. I could see only dulse and tangle, long-winged gulls, the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth, and the old castle, schools, churches, and long country rambles in search of birds' nests. I do not wonder that the weary camels coming from the scorching African deserts should be able to scent the Nile.
A thousand-mile walk to the Gulf
By John Muir

As the house was set some distance back, the east window in the attic was; the only one which commanded a view of the sea. A small table, with its legs sawed off, came exactly to the sill, and here stood a lamp, which was a lamp simply, without adornment, and held about a pint of oil.

She read the letter again and. having mastered its contents, tore it into small pieces, with that urban caution which does not come amiss in the rural districts. She understood that every night of her stay she was to light this lamp with her own hands, but why? The varnish on the table, which had once been glaring, was scratched with innumerable rings, where the rough glass had left its mark. Ruth wondered if she were face to face with a mystery.

The seaward side of the hill was a rocky cliff, and between the vegetable garden at the back of the house and the edge of the precipice were a few stumps, well-nigh covered with moss. From her vantage point, she could see the woods which began at the base of the hill, on the north side, and seemed to end at the sea. On the south, there were a few trees near the cliff, but others near them had been cut down.

Still farther south and below the hill was a grassy plain, through which a glistening river wound slowly to the ocean. Willows grew along its margin, tipped with silvery green, and with masses of purple twilight tangled in the bare branches below.

Ruth opened the window and drew a long breath. Her senses had been dulled by the years in the city, but childhood, hidden though not forgotten, came back as if by magic, with that first scent of sea and Spring.
From Lavender and old lace
By Myrtle Reed

Past the oast houses they wandered on their way to Bigberry Wood as the hawthorn hedges and the oak shaws were burgeoning, and the fields were carpeted with anemones, wild hyacinths and yellow archangel, the air redolent of spring, the nightingale singing in the blue dusk of the May night as they sauntered homewards. In June when the wild roses shed their fragrance, there mingled with it the scent of hay catching at their throats, catching in the Boy's throat now as he sat in the stillness of the choir, so vividly memory swept in upon him like a tide; memories, too, of the marshes in autumn twilight within scent and sight of the sea, the tang of the sea wind mingling with wood fires whose smoke curled up into the dusking sky.
from A book of boyhoods, Chaucer to MacDowell
By Eugénie Mary Fryer