In Scotland, whisky is spelled with a ‘y’


I love the way smells bring back memories – feelings – like no other sense. Walking into the house I grew up in when I’ve been away for a while, and the feelings that conjures. Getting on the boat after having been gone. It probably smells like diesel, but to me, it’s the smell of adventure.


The day Mia and my dad flew to Las Palmas, she had on a green t-shirt, and put on perfume in the morning. Her flight wasn’t until that evening, and she wore it all day. She left it for me on the pillow of our bed, and every night before I fall asleep I just lean over and take a sniff. It’s incredible the emotions that come out of that silly t-shirt. It’s Mia, in my mind, right there. It’s amazing. I did the same for her (less the perfume), and she has it on the boat with her now, somewhere in mid-Atlantic. I realize as I’m typing this that it probably sounds really weird, and borderline stalker-ish, but when it’s your wife, I suppose it’s okay. And it’s not like it’s her underwear. That would be weird.

I just sat down to right my daily email to Kinship and I poured a small glass of Lagavulin scotch, which is what got me on the topic of smells this evening. When my dad came to sail with us this past summer in Ireland, we had a plan to visit a few of the scotch distilleries once we made our way north on


. It’d be an activity on it’s own, and they were on the way. Anyway, opening up the Lagavulin tonight caused the memories of that trip to come flooding back. I didn’t even like the scotch that much when we first tasted it – particularly the Laphraiog that we tasted first, which tasted like chewing on a burnt cigar – but smelling it now, tasting it now, puts me right back on the boat.


Dad and I at Lagavulin distillery on Islay in Scotland.

I particular there was one evening that I enjoyed the most, that it continues to remind me of. We were anchored in the Caledonian Canal, at the head of Loch Lochy, and Mia had made my favorite pumpkin soup for dinner. Dad and I were in the cockpit enjoying the scenery – which was stunning. That is still my favorite anchorage in the world, surrounded by hills and calm water and not too many signs of humanity – and enjoying a small glass of Lagavulin. The weather was clear but chilly, so we had on hats and sweaters. But it fit the mood of the scotch. I would never drink it when it’s warm outside (it’s below freezing in PA tonight, which is helping). That night was only a few months after my mom had died, and I caught my dad staring off into the distance on several occasions, just looking and thinking. I didn’t have to ask him what he was thinking about.