Creosote: A thing of beauty and nostalgia

Creosote: A thing of beauty and nostalgia

I have a love/hate affair with the desert. I've lived all my life in desert regions and declared as a teenager that "One day I will move away from all the dirt." I long for cabins in the forest and grey foggy mornings. Yet here I am, still in the region of dirt. But I'd be remiss to say I don't love it too. I do. I love the mild winters, and I appreciate the scorching heat (in small doses). In late summer, I love the change of landscape when I catch a glimpse of my surroundings and think, "Oh, where did all the dirt go?"

Mark took me for a drive early on in our days together. He pulled off a dusty road and beckoned me to follow where he pulled a branch of sticky, bright green leaves off a nearby Creosote bush. He cupped the branch in his hands and raised it to my nose. I inhaled deeply and there was only one word to describe that overwhelming aroma: rain. Fresh, earthy desert rain. A thing of beauty.

I've wondered over the years why this plant is so precious to us desert dwellers. Why do we cherish it so? But, the reason is simple: memory and nostalgia. It reminds us of the fleeting piece of time we get in the summer when the desert treats us to its most dramatic show of power and strength. It's a vivid reminder that you're just an occupant on this spinning rock at the whim of something much larger. The power of nature has a way of putting things into perspective.


Monsoon over Tucson, Aaron Avery

But on a smaller, less existential scale it reminds me of stepping outside on a balmy summer evening and catching that scent in the air. If you've experienced it you know it. Creosote is a scent that sears itself in memory with the anticipation of electrified skies, churning winds, and a violent dump of rain.

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Yes! I recall when I first moved to Tucson from Michigan, the first experience of that smell in the air I used to think it was a horrible smell in the air after a monsoon storm. But over time I grew to love that smell of creosote bushes and its a nostalgic staple of every Tucson dwellers, even now and then I get a whiff of that creosote bush in Phoenix and the minute I smell it I’m taken back to Tucson in memories. But I learned you can take a man out of Tucson, but you can never take Tucson out of a man. 🥰


I agree, great summarization of the desert. And, although your concern is for the olfactory senses I feel I need to add another reason I do love the desert. My daughter went to the University of Washington in Seattle. We made numerous trips there and loved the beauty of the lush green growth everywhere, but after awhile I started to feel almost claustrophobic. Where was the horizon? I found I missed the visual aspect of the desert. In addition to the beauty of succulents I also wanted to see “forever.” The only part of Seattle that gave me some satisfaction along those lines was when we were in a place that gave us views of the ocean. Some friends of my daughter visited once and were rude enough to complain, in my presence, about how ugly the desert was and WHY would anybody want to live there? I had to remind them of the old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”


Great summarization of our desert and cherished rains. Best of all, you being able to fill our olfactory senses all year around with your creosote soap!! Not to mention how it leaves our skin, as do all your products. You make a lot of us happy!!


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