Fragrant Quote for December 3rd, 2011 from A Boyhood Alongshore

Fragrant Quote for December 3rd, 2011 from A Boyhood Alongshore

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' irons
and 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.