scent of the weather

Growing up we lived too far away from any urban areas for me to work retail, drench potatoes in grease, or pump gas, even part-time. The commute would have taken up half my work day.  So my first job involved me packing up my car with as much camping gear as it would hold, buying a few week’s worth of food, and driving to the corner of nowhere in the forest. My first job was planting trees.

I also worked in another aspect of silviculture: brushing and woodcutting, or brushing. This is where you have a higher-powered weed whacker with a blade on the end and you go out and look for newly planted trees. The seedlings are “newly planted” 1-2 years ago so the landscape is the proverbial haystack. With your saw blade you then cut down everything within a 1 metre radius from the tree. You remove any vegetation, other trees, and grasses in competition for light and nutrients to give that little sucker a fighting chance at growth.

It was a summer, but it didn’t seem like it.

There were a lot of bugs. We were with the same group of people every day. Sometimes we got lost on the piece of land we were working on. And there was rain.

A stream runs through a tent after two inches ...

Oh, to be in nature. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We camped in the bottom of a dark valley almost 4 hours away from civilization. We had a creek that flowed right by our campsite that made it seem picturesque; the same creek also flooded and washed out a few tents.

It rained. It rained hard. And it rained pretty much every day.

Given that we were camping we had no laundry facilities. But we also worked 6 days a week and needed dry clothing. The solution was the dry tent. This was a walk-in canvas tent with a spider web assortment of clothes lines and one heavy-duty wood stove in the center.  The stove burned pretty much day and night.

After a few weeks the tent began to smell. Even after laundry days in town the clothes never really seemed clean again. They had a distinct odour — partially body odour, dirt, wet grass clippings and some gasoline. It was a potpourri of earthy musk.  Each day you could multiply that by 25 and stick these clothes to bake in our steamy hot room for a few hours. It got to be almost unbearable to go near the dry tent.


This too shall pass. (Photo credit: alexik)

It is raining here a lot now too. Running in the rain is not as easy or enjoyable as the warm temperatures and sunshine a few weeks ago. But I am running. Although I do have water-resistant running gear, I still get home with my clothes leaving puddles behind me.

Sometimes when I am peeling off my layers, I catch a whiff of a scent. Mostly it smells like wet clothes. But in the memory of my smells, I remember. I am glad that my clothes are in the wash within minutes and I am in a hot shower. Things smell better. But just to be sure, I add extra soap.


7 thoughts on “scent of the weather

  1. Tania, I think this prepared you for the zombie apocalypse. You’re ready for earthy, musky smells. I can see how it would be a challenge, although I’m a bit envious. I would have preferred this job to fast food! Good for you for running in the rain!

    • Amy, bring on the zombies! I’m ready for any stench.
      This job was a pretty unique and fun experience all in all (especially reminiscing from the dry comforts of home). The rain is yucky, but I suffer more if I don’t go run. Plus, it’s only water.

  2. Tania, to this life-long city slicker, planting trees in the rainy season, would have seemed like serving time. My first job was working as the human equivalent of a mosquito: telemarketing. At least I was dry and the workplace environment was an ordinary office with a shed-load of phones.

    • Virginia,
      I think working as a telemarketer wouldn’t have given me much of a buzz (excuse the mosquito reference). I really enjoyed being outside with the bears and my dog and the trees. Consequently though, I really don’t like camping now. Give me a bed indoors and wifi and I’m much happier.

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