Sunday, January 11, 2009

Something in the woodshed

As a child, whenever I was upset about something I would "run away" and hide in the woodshed behind our cottage. The wood was delivered from the local sawmill in roughly hewn, chunky logs which were fragrant, slightly damp, and still covered in bark and moss; I had to climb up over a huge pile to get to my favourite spot, right at the back, where I would make myself a little nest amongst the logs and sit sobbing until I felt better, with my only friends the little spiders and beasties who were attracted to my torch (which I always had the presence of mind to bring). It could be cosy and surprisingly warm; if it was windy and I could hear the rain hitting the corrugated roof, it was a satisfyingly melodramatic gesture yet very comforting. I always felt better when I emerged (usually to find that no one had even noticed I was gone).

The woodshed has moved location now but for old times' sake, when I was home at Christmas I tried climbing in to the back, over the piles of logs. The cold and the smell were incredibly evocative. It might only sell to the likes of me but it occurred to me that someone should bottle it.

15 comments:

Mancsoulsister said...

This post made me smile... I have just stacked 6 cubic metres of roughly chopped pine logs in our woodshed ready to dry out for the winter. I can absolutely imagine sitting in a corner of the shed among the spiders and breathing in the glorios musty woody aroma and finding it comforting.

Claire said...

Yes, I for one never noticed that you were gone ;-)

As for bottling that smell, I'm sure it's already been tried for various after-shaves aimed at rugged lumberjacks and the like...or people who'd like to smell like lumberjacks. Although I'd probably add in a drop or two of diesel fumes....mmmmmmm....

LottieP said...

Thanks, MSS. It was Scotland, so it was always a bit chilly, but some warmth seemed to come from the logs.

I'm sure there was a range of scents that aimed to mimic natural aromas like grass, Claire: I'm remembering Commes des Garçons, but could be wrong. Some witless fashion house must surely have tried to reproduce the smell of freshly chopped wood and sell it for a fortune.

Charlotte Cooper said...

There must be something here:
http://www.demeterfragrance.com/

Mummy said...

I love how evocative smells are, more so than images or sounds. Growing up in London, I never had a woodshed (just a garage full of spiders, which I am petrified of as a result).

Your shed sounds lovely.

Deke Writin said...

From the arch Sparks song, "Perfume":

"The olfactory sense is the sense
That most strongly evokes memories of the past
Well, screw the past."

LottieP said...

Great link, Charlotte - I found Christmas Tree and Bonfire as well as the intriguing Dirt. No Woodshed though.

I don't have a problem with spiders, Mummy - at least, not the little, benign ones that kept me company in the shed.

A great lyric, Deke, but perhaps not as funny as it at first seems.

Anonymous said...

Turpentine is my favourite.

I didn't have a woodshed but we did have the bikesheds at school and an enormous bog which would swallow the running shoes of the incautious.

At home, just a copse of trees. But I did used to like climbing up a tall fir tree and being by myself. The gentle sway of the tree top was very soothing and quite akin to being on a boat.

Grande Poobah said...

Marc Jacob does the scents - grapefruit, grass, basil etc etc. you can get them in LC!

I like the smell of tarmac just after a really heavy shower of rain. I don't think Marc has had a crack at this one yet.

Mummy said...

The smell of hoof oil (horsey related smell) is probably my favourite. Creosote comes close, but not quite right.

LottieP said...

I like the sound of your fir tree, Anonymous. And the shoe-collecting bog. I had a tree to hide in, too. There's a wood-related theme to my escapes... Turpentine, however, reminds me of too many painting disasters. And it's a jakie's tipple.

The fresh smell of the road after rain definitely works for me, GP.

You bring in a bit of a rogue element with your horses' hooves, Mummy. I can see this comments thread taking a bit of a risque turn...

Claire said...

Mummy, I did enjoy sniffing creosote when I was pregnant, and even now smelling it brings back fond memories. I practically had to be dragged away from one particular fence in Inverness...

Mummy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mummy said...

I never thought of hoof oil as a cure for morning sickness. Maybe next time...

My parent made me keep all my horse grooming kit in the garage, adding to the excitement and fear of having to go in there and master the fear of the spiders.

LottieP - I have no idea what you mean ;o)

LottieP said...

As an addendum to this discussion, there’s a word for the smell of the road after rain: petrichor, combining petros (Greek for stone) and ichor (the fluid that flows in the veins of Greek gods).