Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tanglewood, good smells, and forgetting yourself

In years’ past, I would annually brave the crowds at Tanglewood, Massachusetts’ civilized version of Woodstock, to take in the sublime sounds of John Williams and the Boston Pops or any of the talented musicians who often grace the stage. Nowadays, I’ve no tolerance for the traffic, the bugs, or the lugging of the must-have posh noshes to far-flung corners of meadow. (Candelabra: check.)

But what I *do* miss are the smells. The first time you visit Tanglewood, set in a fairytale woods, you’ll no doubt walk away with the same diverse olfactory catalog I did. Sitting on your low folding chair, blanket at the ready to cover your soon-to-be chilly knees, you’ll experience a medley of scents which at once overpower and gently perfume—harmonizing like the woodwinds but also clashing like angry cymbals.

Cigar. Freshly-cut grass. Buttery popcorn. Beeswax candle. Blue cheese. Perfume with a hint of jasmine. Evergreen trees. The sting of a match’s sulphur.

They wrap around you, their diverseness playing counterpoint to the bucolic surroundings--because even though thousands of people are sitting alongside you, it’s still a grassy field in the woods.

And then the maestro mounts the stage, you peer through the candle and wine glasses on the low table in front of you, and you forget all about the aromas which accompanied you just moments before.

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