Thursday, July 15, 2010


Last night’s swim brought an interesting olfactory surprise. I swam in the water of Sunset Beach, all the way to the large float that marks the boat traffic territory. The setting sun nearly blinded my eyes and I was hardly able to make out the couple in the rowing boat ahead of me. I stopped for a while, blocked off from my goal (to reach that big red ball and than swim back…) by the couple and while waiting for them to move on I noticed an unusual scent in the air.

The middle of the water is the place I least expect to smell anything around. Unlike a walk in the neighbourhood with its abundant gardens, it’s not as if you’d stop to smell the seaweed when you go for a swim… But surprises are what you find in the least expected friend. Just a few days before, I knocked into a good old friend in that very same water. So really, I should know better than to expect less than the unexpected!

The water was very cold, which is pretty much it’s normal thing year around in Vancouver. A peculiar scent, yet not at all unpleasant, wafted above the water and gently blew in my face fragments of raw fish, seaweed and something quite floral and strange. I believe to be the scent of ozone, at least partially, wafting just above the water. It was not unlike calone, but with none of the harsh, sickening quality of rotting fish and piercing rusty metal that I got when I smelled a 10% dilution of the watermelon ketone. Apparently, it could very likely have something to do with a particular brown algae’s metabolism or pheromones.

I’ve never felt that calone was in the least floral, but I can now see where perfumes such as Cool Water and l’Eau d’Iseey found their inspiration. The perfumers must have been either swimming or sailing in a very cold ocean at sunset searching for brown algae…

Bewildered, I turned around and swam back to the beach. It weakened as I approached the shore. But when I went back to the red float (the sailing couple was gone), the scent was there and as strong as before, and it was haunting me ever since. I tried wearing l’Eau d’Issey (which bears some similarities, and to my surprise smells a lot more like sheer woodsy incense scent now, but this is the parfum extrait). I went to the beach again the next day, but the scent was gone.

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At July 19, 2010 12:17 PM, Anonymous Carolyn said...

Thanks for the post, your descriptions nearly put me in the water !!!


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