Have Scent, Will Travel

Have Scent, Will Travel

Robin Catalano

I’m a freelance writer and editor who lives and breathes creative, voice-driven marketing. A copywriter, blogger, and content marketer. A social media content creator and strategist. A ghostwriter. The editor of more than 350 books and magazines. 

The forest was surprisingly quiet on an October morning, even though my husband’s family and I were one of at least four groups of people there. We had come to Soria, in the northwest of Spain, to hunt for porcini mushrooms, one of the Castilla y Léon region’s most treasured finds. We tread over dried branches that snapped underfoot, speaking in low, practically reverent voices, the smell of pine thick in the air. 

I spied a group of rusty domed heads poking up from the ground and crouched to liberate them. As I tugged the porcinis free from the soil, I breathed in the scents of earth and dried leaves, the light musk of fresh mushroom flesh lingering in my nose. 

Later, after we had filled our baskets and driven back to our rented apartment, we gently laid out the mushrooms on the kitchen table, as if putting an especially fussy baby down for a nap. Pine, leaves, earth, mushrooms: the scents rose again. If I closed my eyes, I could almost believe I was back in the forest.

Even though the porcinis themselves and the trip we found them on have long since passed, I still think of that trip whenever I smell the earthy aroma of evergreens and fresh mushrooms. It’s a sensory experience rooted in both biology and emotion, and one we rarely consider on a conscious level.    

Neuroscientists have proven that scent is inextricably tied to memory because of the way the brain is structured. The olfactory bulb, which is responsible for the intake of smell, is located at the bottom front of the brain, near the sinuses. When aroma molecules enter the nasal cavity, the olfactory bulb acts like a train conductor, directing signals to the limbic system, including the amygdala and hippocampus, which are responsible for the processing of emotion and memory. 

So when, for example, I smell a pot of marinara sauce spiced with floral basil and savory oregano bubbling on the stove, my mind’s eye immediately conjures an image of my mother bustling around the kitchen. Or when I take a walk in my neighborhood and smell wildflowers growing on the roadside, I’m taken back to childhood, playing hide-and-seek with my sister and cousins in the meadow behind my parents’ house.

But the power of scent doesn’t have to be limited to memories alone. We can also tap into these sensory experiences to “travel” to places we’ve never been before, even when the opportunity to physically go isn’t available to us. When I discovered Waypoint’s new candles, I wanted to test out this theory, to see how the sensory experience stacks up to packing a bag and heading to a new place—especially now that travel is so limited.

I expected the Paris candle to feature lavender, the quintessential French fragrance. But I was happily surprised with its fresh take on a classic scent, including the herby tone that tempers the flowery lavender. But the real surprise is the champagne, which gives it a fresh, fizzy energy. It’s easy-chic, much like Paris itself, which never tries to be cool or interesting—it just is. Burning this candle, it’s not difficult to see myself strolling the Jardin des Tuileries again, then settling down at a wrought-iron bistro table along the Seine for a cup of coffee and a slice of tarte tatin, the tart apples and tangy rosemary melting against my tongue.

I’ve yet to travel to Colorado, but the Denver candle captures what I’ve always thought the city must feel like. With its mix of pine and grassy and floral scents, it’s a blast of fresh air that immediately evokes wide-open spaces. I can envision hiking to the top of a rock-strewn trail in the Wild Basin, pausing to take in a breathtaking panorama of forest, sky, and water. It’s bracing, enlivening—what it must feel like to be close to the clouds.  

The Havana candle caught my attention right out of the box, with its unmistakable whiff of jasmine, a complex flower that can be intoxicatingly sweet yet have a musky undertone. Combined with tobacco and honey, Havana has a spicy kick that suggests a dusky downtown club, lit only by strands of string lights. The sweet-burnt whiff of cigar wafts by me, from the old man smoking a few tables away, and the ever-present tap-tap-tap-tap of salsa shoes against a well-worn wooden floor fills the space.

It doesn’t hurt that Waypoint candles also look fantastic, with their minimalist white glass holders and modern carved-wood coaster lids. But for me, they’re not just décor; they’re a powerful way to keep the spirit of exploration alive. Even though we’re still a ways off from traveling beyond our local regions, for now, I can light a candle, kick back with a craft cocktail or a cup of espresso, and let my mind do the traveling, evoking places familiar and unfamiliar—a story told entirely through scent memory.


Products to Love

DENVER // Candle

Pine, Sage, Sweetgrass, and a subtle note of Pine brings the Colorado mountains to your home.

PARIS  //  Candle

The refined and elegant hints of Lavender, Rosemary and Champagne bring you straight to Paris.

HAVANA // Candle

The scent of quintessentially Cuban tobacco paired with Honey and Jasmine blends everything Havana.