The Smell of Inspiration

With no destination in mind, I sauntered down May Street revelling in the afterglow of my first Kundalini yoga experience. Eyes half closed, head tilted slightly back, I breathed in the fragrances emitting from the street’s many home gardens. My favourite floral scent is that of the red rose, especially in the early morning when its oil is most powerful. Such blooms fill Victoria’s neighbourhoods and as I strolled and sniffed my way, I began to sense a purpose to my wandering.

Ducking into a second-hand bookshop, I glanced around wondering if I’d been there before. Shelves of old books emanating their familiar scent of mustiness mingled with hints of vanilla tingled my senses. I didn’t need a book; I had two ginormous textbooks and a stack of journal articles waiting to be read. Scanning the first few bookcases with their rows and rows of classics, I noted what I’d read and what I’d yet to read.Then, I spotted him. He was sitting cross-legged atop a hill with Charley, his black standard poodle, by his side. An original 1961 paperback copy. It was John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.


Steinbeck, standard poodles, and road trips: three of my favourite things. Was there a more perfect book I could be reading? I thought not.

I knew the book. I’d carried it around for years, having picked it up solely because the story starred a standard poodle. I never got around to reading it though and lost the copy in one of my many shuffles. At the time, I’d had my own Charley. His name was Jake, but Jake wasn’t a traveller. No, Jake would rather be left behind than climb into a vehicle. I loved Jake, just like Steinbeck loved Charley.

I’m only 30-pages in and am completely enthralled. Joining Steinbeck and Charley on their journey across America? Well, it doesn’t get better than that.

Of course it does get better. Some day, I’ll be travelling across the country in my own Rocinante, and with my own Charley, writing my own story.


  1. Welcome back! Lovely, INSPIRING little post Tracey. God, how I long to lay in a hammock reading Steinbeck… Rocinante? In any case, hope to see you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lee! Always lovely to read a post from you.

      Rocinante was the name of Steinbeck’s camper truck, which he named after Don Quixote’s horse.

      Yes, let’s aim for coffee in the next week or two.


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