Pumpkin and Spice and Everything Nice...

The crisp fall air is settling over Paris as leaves flutter to the ground.  Brown leather boots are again fashionable as I have to decide excitedly between sweaters and scarves.  With so many familiar sensations, it’s the smells of autumn that I am most excited about this October.

At home in Pennsylvania, fall was a time for a lot of things.  Haunted hayrides and corn mazes were among them.  Crackling bonfires with apple cider and roasting marshmallows were the norm on Friday nights.  After pumpkin picking, we’d drive by lakes framed by trees in hues of reds, oranges, and yellows, arriving home to a house perfumed with some sort of autumn-inspired candle – usually a pumpkin one.  Mom loves candles.

In college, I hunted high and low for the perfect pumpkin-scented candle with just enough spice and warmth to remind me of the scenic October landscapes in Bucks County.  Sometimes I wonder how I kept my grades up having spent so much time running from store to store.

One day on my way back from my magazine internship, I found the candle, excitedly skipping down Park Ave. with an overpriced jar of nostalgic pumpkin-infused wax.  Happiness.
 Here in Paris, well, let’s just say that Starbucks doesn’t even sell the pumpkin-spiced latte.  You see what I’m up against.  The smells of fall are less familiar, but are slowly growing on me.  At night I open the window and I smell my neighbors somewhere feeding a fire in their fireplace – always surprising in an urban landscape.  Soon the spices and sweetness of mulled wine will waft by Notre Dame.  Dead leaves scattered across the Canal have their own distinct, yet oddly inspiring autumn scent, if you can imagine.

But you’d be kidding yourself if you thought I’d spend the fall season – or pre-Christmas, as I call it – without a dose of pumpkin permeating my apartment.  Through a carefully planned and wildly secretive system of exports and imports (read: the post office), I manage to get my fix of Yankee candles.  They come each year in an envelope that I save and periodically sniff, savoring every last whiff of autumn olfactory pleasure.

Just a few days ago I lit the first of a series of candles that should get me through the rest of the year.  As my apartment fills with the familiar scents of autumn, I’ll count down the days until I can smell the real thing in Bucks County.