Memories of eucalypts

21 06 2006

Someone on one of my lists wrote about eucalypts in Israel, then someone else from San Francisco compared their smell to cat pee… Here's my response:


If you've ever been to California, you've probably seen eucalypts. They're everywhere there… From southern California to areas north of San Francisco, you can't drive too far without seeing one of those big trees we call "gum trees". An Australian export that has now populated many parts of the world, including South Africa, the Middle East, and the US. And then there's eucalpytus oil which you can probably find in your supermarket or drug store – great for all manner of things, including clearing sinuses and getting scuff marks off shoes! (seriously)

Of course, if you've ever been to Australia, that's about all you see! I don't know how many varieties of eucalypts there are, but it's a lot! The blue of the "Blue Mountains" behind Sydney is a result of the massive amounts of eucalyptus oil given off by milions of trees – it creates the bluish haze. And that oil is what makes them burn so well.

The cat pee smell thing… Never thought of eucalypts like that, but then I've lived with the smell all my life without even knowing it's there. When I lived in Canada for a year, I took some vacation time and drove down the entire west coast of the USA. Somewhere in northern California I came across a stand of gum trees by the side of the highway. I stopped the car, got out, and just scrunched up a heap of leaves in my hands and sniffed long and hard – that smell was wonderful and reminded me so much of home. I ended up tearing off a small switch and keeping it in the rental car for days, having a sniff every so often. It'd been at least 6 months since I'd smelled a eucalypt. Then when I arrived in Sydney after 13 months away, the first thing I smelled as I came out of the airport was eucalypts! I'd never noticed the smell in the air before, but being away for so long without the smell, it really hit me on arrival… so much so I burst into tears! <sob>

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