In fog, the coastal scrub chaparral lets down guard. Reinvigorated stomata unclench to exchange air for air. Among the molecule by molecule exhalations of water and oxygen come pungent oil and pitchy resin distillations.
My hair and arms and clothing inhale — the lemongrass of Douglas Fir, the woody warmth of coastal sage, the purple musk of Ceanothus — until a scent of steamed rice and bamboo baskets catches me by surprise. I turn around and around sniffing. It is Baccharis pilularis, coyote brush. This ubiquitous shrub, in this weather, exhales scent-memories that speak of absent family and quiet, lonely dinners far from home.
In fog, the chemical defenses of chaparral against insect, fungal, and animal attack become miasma. I laugh. My lashes are damp.