The Smell of Adventure


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[M]y favorite smell is California sage. It has much less to do with the quality of the smell than its connection to memory. I associate the smell of crushed sage with hiking the coast. Big Sur. Palos Verdes. Malibu. San Luis Obispo.

Sage is the smell of my friends, single file hiking on the edge of a steep hill overlooking some creek or ocean. We’re ill-equipped with crappy back packs full of cheap wine and a tent with no rain-fly. One of us is probably complaining about poison-oak and its omnipresence. One of us is stopping at every out cropping of rocks to crouch and hunt a lizard. I am grabbing sage and crushing it in my hands, rubbing it together, and smelling it. Maybe putting some behind my ear or tucking it in the fold of my beanie.

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That night it lingers invisible between us and the smell of the fire we don’t have a permit for. But the world is wet with dew and we aren’t stupid. Just free.

The laughter and stories allow a happy intoxication to sneak up on us out of the dark, and we’re asleep without any knowledge of the hour.

We wake up early to the smell of sage. We walk back to the car recounting the stupid things we said with joy. Someone is mentioning poison-oak.

And on the drive home, the car smells like california sage.

That is my favorite smell.

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Words by: Jedidiah Jenkins