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Larch does smell—but only at just the right time—and it's magical

“It doesn’t smell,” I said confidently. I was lucky enough to be included in my friends’ annual Thanksgiving ritual last year. Three adults of which I was one, walked along a gravel trail with four children, a baby and a dog. We were foraging to make centrepieces and a wreath. My addition to these beautiful bouquets was larch. I love the way it looks, soft, gentle, somehow personifying a wise old man in my mind. At that time, I was right, it didn’t smell, but a few weeks later, my mind changed.

I was driving across the island heading to visit family and friends in Nova Scotia. The bubble had opened, and I was excited to fly the roost. We stopped near Gander, and found a pond. It was an uncharacteristically warm day, enough so that I jumped into the water. It was not uncharacteristically warm. “It’s so strange, I can smell citrus. Thats not what fall smells like.” To me, autumn’s aromas are decomposing leaves, somehow fresh and dry, cinnamon, cool air—whatever that smells like. Grapefruit, not so much. I scoured the low brush to find the source. I found it, larch, but it couldn’t be, it doesn’t smell. Well, I guess it does, and I’ve since learned that I can only find this citrus *smell* right before the needles turn orange and fall.

A beautiful smell and a lesson in humility, time outdoors never disappoints.


n. The soil that is on or under the surface of the earth.

v. To balance physical, emotional and mental states.

Unlike fir, spruce or juniper—larch is one of the few coniferous trees that has needles which change colour and fall to the ground. Right before this happens, the needles smell distinctly like grapefruit. A fresh citrus top note is balanced with the deep smell of earth and woody scent of coniferous needles. It's like the flickering glow of the sun.


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