Mel’s sidenotes: Pike Place Market

Not too many people know that as a toddler, I was mainly raised at the family owned drug store. It was the old kind of drugstore where you got your baby diapers, camomille and other herbs for your own tea, hair colorations and perfume, before all the big chains opened in my hometown and crushed these mom-and-pop shops. It was founded by my grandfather and later managed by my mom and I was raised either at my stay-home grandmom’s or the drugstore until I was six and my family wisely sold the store before it could go belly-up.

Being surrounded by the fragances of the things sold in the drugstore left a keen sense of smell. Colin, growing up in a musical world, is more sound oriented but I’m first visually oriented and secondly all smells. I still vividly remember the old, disused apthecary cabinet in the storeroom with it’s 100 little drawers of  which each still smelled like the things being stored in there for years before herbs came prepacked. And I developed a allergy against 4711, which I can still identify 3 miles from downwind…

So Pike Place Market with it’s 1000 fragances is an interesting place – and a difficult place for me. It’s not all about rose perfumes – I am an equal opportunity smeller. Fish is just fine as long as it is fresh, spices and tea I can do as well as prepared food of any kind. I hated the smell of the small esoteric place – too much sandalwood. If I had to meditate with that smell around, I would start sneezing, but definitively not relax. Fortunately, the number of merchants with cheap Chinese merchandise is low, because I can smell the plastic softener. Some of the shops smelled like dust and mold – not surprisingly for stores so old and close to the waterfront.

And then there was this strange smell I still cannot identify… I suspect it was a strong disinfectant or bleach, batteling all the potential health risks lurking at a place like this. It was not 4711, though. 🙂

For those of you who are sound-oriented: do you know the feeling when you notice a sound – a ticking of a clock or humming of a fridge – and you simply cannot blend it out and it seems to get louder by the minute? Well – that’s how I had to battle with that strange smell… Which was kind of disappointing, because it mingled with all those interesting smells and covered them up beyond recognition.

So if I ever get lost in Pike Place Market – which could happen easily to tourists, I assume – I cannot rely on a smell-o-map like many animals do to find back out… I would probably end up in the janitor’s cabinet. Sad…

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