My wife and I bought our first house a year ago on the rocky, blustery, chilly hiltops overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The house was a solid, relatively new affair, remarkably similar to the mass-produced split-level suburban McMansions in which I had spent many hours of my youth: visiting friends, going to parties, and groping my way awkwardly towards sexual maturity. This characteristic both attracted and repelled me simultaneously, but a sudden drop in the asking price precipitated our closing of the deal.
My wife had some serious reservations over the dampness. Living right on the ocean, we were subject to the full force of the Pacific, which in this case meant occasionally furious storms but more often heavy damp waves of fog rolling over us all day long. She worried about wood rot and mold, but I was charmed by the lichen growing off of the fence and the lovely patina that formed on all exposed metal surfaces. As in all relationships, we compromised: I covered all the metal in a robust layer of Rustoleum, but left the lichen intact.
One week after we moved in, however, we had our first serious foggy day, and I awoke that morning shocked to discover that the houses across the street had vanished overnight into a milky maelstrom. I wandered out into the back yard, the fresh morning air warmer than I had anticipated. The back third of our yard is a terraced garden planting, and I stepped up to the retaining wall only to be met with the most wonderful scent- musky, heavy, rich with vegetation and life. It was the scent of moss on a spring morning, heavy with damp and the promise of new life. Lavender plants, perennials, ornamental straberries, nettle, and a host of other plants all competed for my olfactory attention, swirling together in a thick foggy medium that brought me back to early morning camping trips of my youth at Point Reyes. One whiff of that, and I was sold - we had found our home.