Friday, March 11, 2011

Scent memory – have you ever had one?

Yesterday, my friend Sue @ I Need Mom, did her weekly tablescape post and it included a couple of photos of some fresh lemons she had received in the mail from another blogger. We all know that our brain can recall memories associated with certain scents, but have you ever seen a photo that brought the memory of a scent on so strongly, that in turn, it evoked the associated memory? That's exactly what happened to me when I saw this photo on Sue's blog…

Ahhh…lemons — fresh, crisp and zesty. I love the scent of lemons! I'll get back that in a minute.

Please note that all the photos in today's post can be enlarged by clicking on them, I knew some of my SoCal friends would want a closer look at some of these amazing aerial shots.

For a time I lived in the Santa Monica Mountains, on the backside of the Hollywood Hills, in the wonderful town of Studio City. This map shows you the range of the Santa Monica Mountains and the "X" marks the spot where I lived…

The mountains run along the coast of the Pacific Ocean in California. They extend from Point Mugu in Ventura County to the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles County (approx. 40 miles). On the southern end they separate the San Fernando Valley (think "Vally girls" or "Vals" from the 80s and 90s) from cities like Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

That's the area I lived, in a house that was so me; I loved every inch of it and only left when my mother became ill in Florida and I moved to be closer to her. I lived just off Ventura Boulevard, the "Melrose" of the Valley. 


This where you want to be to see Universal Studios, great boutiques and fabulous restaurants.

Oh, and you're more than likely to run across many celebrities — look, don't touch! 

I could go on and on about that house, but the part that is relevant to this post is the lemon trees.

Because the backyard was the mountain, it had been layered into four terraces, each connected by steep cement stairs. The top terrace was planted with fruit trees, including three very large lemon trees. Each flat part of the "yards"  was separated by the slope of the mountain and it was planted with creeping thyme. Got the picture in your head? Okay, now I'll get to the point.

Living in the Santa Monica Mountains, the wind current would bring a cool ocean breeze into my open windows. When Spring arrived and the lemon trees would start to blossom, the breeze would pick up their scent and then swoop down over the rosemary and my house became an aromatherapy haven!

I wanted to show you some pics of the mountains and when I started searching I found two websites that provided me with incredible aerial shots from one end to the other. You can find those sites here and here.

This first one is of the Hollywood Hills, remember I lived on the opposite side of them…

From the top of the side I lived on you could look out over the Hollywood Hills

and see downtown Los Angeles in the distance…

What a view!

BUT, the view gets better when you travel north over the Santa Monica Mountains!

The closest beach to my house was Santa Monica. Here's a pic of the Santa Monica Pier, looking back towards the mountains…

Fun beach, but very crowded! I prefer the more northern beaches in this region. There are numerous ways to get there. From Santa Monica, you can drive along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) and just take a look at how close you get to drive to the ocean…

The most scenic drive to get to the beaches from The Valley is taking one of the canyons  — either Malibu or Topanga. Two of my girlfriends, who are both avid readers of this blog (but don't leave comments), can easily take Topanga Canyon to reach the beach. Marice lives right on Topanga Canyon Blvd. and Cheryl lives just blocks from it. Here's a example of what you'll see…

And here's what you'll see on the other end…

From land to sea…

or from sea to land…

there's no better place, I'd rather be!

I LOVE the coast of California. I've mentioned before that my husband and I drove the whole coast from L.A. and up into Oregon for our honeymoon. I've driven this coast many, many times and I never tire of the view…

The Pacific Ocean

Malibu Point and Surfrider Beach

As most of you know, my family had a place at Paradise Cove in Malibu when I was growing up and this is where I spent most weekends and summers. I wrote this in a post from 2009, "We had a modest home in the San Fernando Valley, so that we could also have a weekend/summer getaway at Paradise Cove in Malibu. The Cove was strictly a trailer park at that time and our neighbors included Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Edgar Buchanan and Frank Cady (both of Petticoat Junction) and many friends. We bought our trailer from Lana Turner, better known as the Sweater Girl in those days. By the time we located to The Cove, we were already known as The Lazy G's from our many years of beach camping." I have many, many wonderful memories of our time spent in Malibu.

Paradis Cove at low tide — the beach of my youth…

You're probably wondering how I got from lemons to beaches in this post. Well, the lemons sparked the memory of my house in the Santa Monica Mountains and the ocean breeze I spoke of led me to the beaches that lie in their region. That's just how my brain works, one thing leads me to another. So, I have Sue to thank for filling my day with so many wonderful memories — thanks Sue!

I can't leave without showing you the aerial photos I found of those beaches I grew up on…

Point Dume
Point Dume Cove and Paradise Cove

The second cove on the right in the photo is Paradise Cove. Here's a close-up from Google Earth, I added a red dotted line from PCH, down Paradise Cove Road, right to where our trailer was located… 

The park hasn't grown that much in size since the forty-odd years ago that I lived there. Down on the beach there to the right was the house where they filmed Marcus Welby M.D., that was the house that the good doctor lived in on the show. They also filmed the opening segment for The Monkees on the beach and Rockford Files was another show that used my beach for location shots. Yeah, Hollywood loved us and we loved them!

We lived in Malibu before it was incorporated into a city in 1991 and the boundaries grew. When we lived there it was just…

"27 Miles of Scenic Beauty"

Oh, if you're wondering what Paradise Cove is like today, here's an excerpt from this month's issue of Vanity Fair, "The hippest neighborhood in Malibu right now is … a trailer park? Yes, say the likes of Minnie Driver, Pamela Anderson, and Matthew McConaughey. In Paradise Cove, whose pioneers included director Sam Peckinpah and Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler, Vanessa Grigoriadis explores the surfboard-and-shirtless bohemian charms—not to mention those trailers, with their marble floors, Italian-granite countertops, and Sub-Zero appliances—which have sent the price of a tricked-out double-wide into the millions." You can read the entire article here.

Isn't it amazing what a simple photo of lemons on someone's blog can lead to? 

I started working on this post yesterday (despite the fact that I said I was going to be doing simpler posts while I'm working on goodies for Jane's Art at Home Show) and then I woke up to the news this morning about the 8.9 earthquake in Japan and the impending tsunami that is expected to hit the California coastline in the next few hours. The advisory starts just north of the area I wrote about today, but it is under a tsunami warning. Also included in the warning area is Redondo Beach, where my son lives. As I write this, a newscaster from Newport Beach (an hour south of my son) is reporting that they've closed down all the beaches, harbors and marinas. They are not expecting any major damage, but are concerned about the surge and have told people not to go near the water. The threat is worse up in Northern California and officials have closed down Highway 1. PCH is a section of Highway 1, in Southern California. You can bet that I will be glued to the television today to see the effect on the coastline that I love so much. My heart and thoughts today are with the people of Japan for the damage the quake caused and to those who lost loved ones. My heart and thoughts are also with those in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and California who are taking precautions against the tsunami — please be safe and listen to what the officials are saying — don't go near the water! 

Note for my California friends: Remember that house next door to me whose backyard was always covered in Morning Glories? Well, when I was researching this post I came across the realtors listing and discovered they completely remodeled it and it sold last August for $615,000. Two bedroom, 1.5 baths, only 1,158 sq. ft. and it sold for more than 1/2 a mil! You have to see what they did to it though here, it's gorgeous!

21 Thoughtful Comments:

Della said...

This was an incredible post! I love driving along the coast from Washington to California, it's so beautiful. You brought back memories for me, too. I swear I could smell the lemons, and the sweet, tangy scent from the blossoms.

I too, was shocked to learn of the Japan quake, and impending Tsunami this morning. I pray everyone is safe, and damage is minimal.

Loui♥ said...

Oh Shelle..
Rambling or not..
you brought back My California memories.. such a sweet sweet time..
I lived in Ventura,, two houses from the beach!
and wghen the Citrus was in bloom..
ahhhh HEAVEN!!!
but those Santa Ana's would just kill my sinuses!!
warmest SANDY hugs..

Completely Coastal said...

How could we not remember driving that coast. I drove it up and down during a 5 week time span when I was 21 -for the first time! I still remember it so clearly. Going in and out of the fog..., waves crashing, seagulls..., cool stops on the way..., then I drove it again 10 years ago. Never went up into the valleys. Next time!!! Oh, and I didn't like Santa Monica beach at all, don't know what the fuzz is all about.

Have a great weekend. Awesome shots!!!!!

Simone @ Doberman's by the Sea said...

Awesome post-and your past as well. I have never been past Texas. I would like to visit one day.

Jane said...

Wonderful post! And boy, do I love what the owners did to that cute little house "next door". Just goes to show you how something plain, can be transformed!

Scent haven't done that for me, but whenever I smell heating olive oil, I think of my grandmother. Her home...and her body...always smelled that way.

Thanks for sharing the photos...the memories...etc. And...I LOVE that pink hat in your family photo!!!

jmac said...

dear dear SB!! Everytime I see you've made a post, I scurry to get a diet coke and a snack because I know I'm getting ready to enjoy a wonderful story and prolly see some awesome pictures and research done by you!! You haven't disappointed me yet! This one was no exception. My oldest son and wife lived in Ventura for 7 yrs and everytime we went to visit them, we stayed in the hotel right on the beach beside the pier...lovely memories!
thanks for your words today!!

Anonymous said...

You keep outdoing yourself! I thoroughly enjoyed this. I've never lived in California, but always loved how the beach and the mountains meet!

Lovely, lovely trip you took us on...!

(Now I must go back and study the 1200 sq. ft. house that sold for $615,000. Yowsah!

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Rhonda
So much to say.. I'm very much one for scents recalling a place or time.. so many I won't list.. but these shots are wonderful!! fabulous.. and I only just heard the news about the tsunami in Japan.. so sad.. so much devastation this year it is hard to comprehend.. I haven't watched the news for a few days.. so don't even know yet when this happened... Apparently tsunami warning were given for NZ but I hadn't heard any others.. much go switch the tv on..

Hope you are well.. take care.. ciao xxxx Julie

michelle said...

Oh I so know what you are talking about with the scents and memory! I loved this post, once again you have captured a love of yours and made it feel like I was there with you, loving it as well. The area that you grew up in sounds so wonderful and magical in a way. I grew up and still live in a beach town and wouldn't have it any other way. The memories that pour in from time spent by the water are priceless. Oh and I love that remodel of the home with the morning glories, it is beautiful!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Karen said...

What a fun post!! And you must miss that little house in the hills, great neighborhood.. I want that little house nextdoor for half a mil!

Great childhood memories too...

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I loved this post Rhonda!!!
What a great childhood you had!
So many neat pics, so many neat stories too!
That trailer park sounds soo cool!
I have only been to California once. We went to San Francisco, Napa Valley and then down the coast to the Herst Castle. I wish we could have stayed longer! But the Big Sur was just amazing!
The only thing is I don't know how people afford to live there! I could not believe the prices of homes.
And I couldn't believe how many people there were!
But it is an amazing state!
Hugs friend,
Again, great post!

Lindsay-ann said...

Hi Rhonda
I really enjoyed this post. I have never even seen a lemon tree, they would not grown over here. I loved seeing the beautiful California beach areas. I would really love to visit there one day. It sounds wonderful to be able to smell lemons in the breeze like you described. It must have been amazing to have stayed so close to the beach when you were a kid. I was glad to hear that the tsunami didn't effect the US coastline too much in the end. So sad for Japan and so worrying about the reactor.
It's not long now until our trip. We are very excitied :)

Sue said...

A little bird (from Australia) told me she saw my lemons here and I knew it would be interesting! I know exactly what you mean about the scents...I had some flashbacks of my own the minute I opened the box from Jenny.

Do you know that with all the traveling I've done, I've never been to California? We went to Arizona one Christmas when I was a teenager and planned to drive to California, but if I remember correctly there was a snow storm in between that kept us from going that far. So, this was not only a very interesting post to almost sounds like living in a foreign country!

People ask me what inspires blog posts and I always tell them it can be anything. Do you think Jenny knew that when she picked those lemons and grapefruits in her yard that she would inspire a tablescape and 2 blog posts??

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

The Florida Blogger said...

Don't tell my Florida buds, but some of the prettiest places in the world are in CA. Half Moon Bay, Russian River Valley. Very nice!

The Robin and Sparrow said...

Hi Rhonda,
Thank you for your sweet comment. I fluttered over here to comment back and got all enthralled walking down memory lane with you! I grew up in Arizona so our place of vacation was going to California! Newport beach was our fave. We were what I think Californians called "zonies"! Now I'm up the coast in Oregon. We had friends that had to evac yesterday. It was pretty scary.
The lemons!!! I always have a bowl of them in my fridge but sadly they are from Costco :( I bet those fresh ones are unbelievable! Thank you for sharing!

The Fajdich Times said...

I loved your post!! I know what you mean about the lemon clean, and fresh just like the ocean. I could not believe the news of the Tsunami. My cousin is on vacation in Hawaii. She is staying on Maui. They had to evacuate to high land yesterday......haven't heard anthing today. They planned a great vacation..........hope they get to enjoy it. Hope your son is safe. I'll be in the kitchen smelling lemons and wishing I was by the ocean:)

CHERI said...

You are one interesting lady! How wonderful to have lived here...the pictures are gorgeous. I would love to live near the ocean...until hurricane season.

Lori E said...

Funny you should ask about a photo bringing back a scent memory because when I saw your photo of the lemon tree blossoms I was suddenly back walking through a local garden center that got in a shipment of Meyer lemon plants. The aroma was amazing but a little overwhelming with so many in a small space.
We of course can't grow them outside in B.C. but in a greenhouse they would be great.
What a fabulous place to grow up in.

Steve PP said...

What a great post ! Thanks for sharing!

Magdalena said...

Hi Shellbelle,
This is one of my favorite posts you have ever done! The images are stunning but the memories you shared with us are priceless!! You are so interesting and grateful for a life -lived filled with such love and beauty!! I completely understand how certain smells can take us back to a certain time and memory! For me the smell of certain laundry and bath soap melts my heart as it reminds me of my grandmother and her little adorable old fashioned linen closet.
Thanks again for checking on me, I'm going to the dr's today, I'm not feeling to good so my husband is picking me up in a little while and driving me.. I'll email you soon

Desert Dreaming said...

Rhonda...I wanted to write on this post the other day at work, and for some reason my computer there wouldn't allow it. But, I just want to say how much this post totally made my day, and I love coming back looking at it. Though I never lived in So. California, by Father, has lived there since he was a very young man, and I still have brothers and a sister there. I've spent so much time there since the age of 16, I feel like it was my second home, and the pictures you have posted just bring so many precious beautiful memories back for me. So my friend, thank you again for such a wonderful post to reflect upon.


I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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