Pittosporum & Rain

Pitosporum, a photo by FOTOGRAFIES CATA on Flickr.
After our brief Portland encounter, we arrived in Berkeley in the late afternoon of Tuesday, March 19th.
The moment we got out of the rabbit hole and got out, three distinct realizations hit me:
First of all, it was raining, in California - which is a most profound cognitive dissonance for a Vancouverite (and what we supposedly hate the most when on vacation). I didn't only not mind this rain (which was soft, and slightly warm, at least in comparison to its relatives up north). I liked the smell of the rain, which we rarely actually get in Vancouver (where it rains about 90% of the year). Besides, I wasn't exactly on vacation. I had lots of work to do - and the lack of sun would make me feel less like I was missing out on fun.

Secondly, the street dwellers of Berkeley turned out to be the most colorful bunch, and far outweigh their brethren in Vancouver in most categories (except, perhaps, politeness). To prove my point: they were wearing war paints all over their face when we arrived, made probably from flower pollen and exotic spices.

Thirdly and lastly - the air smelled fantastic, and it wasn't just the rain hitting the dry pavement; and it wasn't laundromat either. I spent the remainder of my time trying to find out where the smell came from. And it turned out that the majority of Shattuck Avenue is lined with tall evergreen trees, whose blossoms release the most intoxicating aroma reminiscent of osmanthus, orange blossom and orchid.

A few days later, I learned from Bruno that those trees are non other than Pittosporum undulatum. I'm not sure which kind exactly, but they certainly grow tall, beautiful and fragrant - something you might want to consider when planning your garden!

Ode to James Bay

James Bay, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

James Bay looked beautifully moody on this grey spring day. The misty air smelled of salt and wet grass as we approached the hillsides, trimmed with strange hedges and covered with grassy meadows, specked with early daffodils. The beauty of this bay has the ability to soothe the most troubled soul with its harmonious horizon of snow capped mountainous islands.

James Bay, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

And it greeted me yesterday with the most smiling of all faces - the setting sun sending horizontal rays through the layers of grass and diffuses through the atmosphere with moving dots like swimming plankton.

Piano & Chess, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

The lobby at James Bay Inn smells vaguely of almonds and baby powder and has everything one needs to pass time meaningfully - a piano and a chess set. The only thing missing was people to play with (or play the piano for me). But even just looking at the space and the antique Victorian sofas and upholstered chairs creates a lively conversation in one’s head.

In the evening, as we walked on Toronto street, approaching Beacon Hill Park, a strangely familiar scent permeated the air: brewing tea! Was it Early Grey, or something else? It was obviously present but also slipped away quickly before I was able to fully analyze it. It reminded me mostly of wet tea leaves. A few steps later, it was Blueberry tea. “Hmmm, Victorians must be true tea lovers if their streets smell like this!”. I was determined to come back through the same street on the way to the inn, but the winding trails on the parks mossy belly distracted me and I was walking in a different street. I almost just arrived at the hotel, when the tea waft appeared again. This time, it was more like a lychee tea. Cleverly, I stopper right there and than and bent over the nearest branch of flowering bush that happened to be just by my feet. Sure enough, this was the source of the scent. The bush looks like pittosporum with green blossoms. And smells amazingly like fruity black tea.


This evergreen bush was in full bloom everywhere I went in the cities. But it was especially fragrant in the gardens of Jerusalem, where its exceptional aroma, reminiscent of both orange blossom and jasmine scented the air with its uplifting and delicate scent.
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