I placed slim, white tapers in Danish candlesticks on my dining table and struck a match to their looping wicks. The faint fragrance swept me back to a breezy afternoon amid the timbered restorations of Deerfield village in western Massachusetts.
The candles were handcrafted in that historic country town, which was settled in 1669 at what was then the western frontier of New England. Their aroma is a blend of wildflowers, a sweet reminiscence of blossoms from the shores of Cape Cod, of honeysuckle and salt mist rose, of sea lavender and beach pea and heather.
If you have hiked those sandy dunes you know the scents. And, if you have a whiff of romance in your soul, a match and candle can transport you back to favorite journeys, or favorite moments of journeys.
The match that I touched to the Deerfield candles is from the splendid Manila Hotel, whose spacious lobby glows with marble and Philippine mahogany. Its box was nestled in a sideboard drawer next to a book of matches from Rancho Encantado on the Opera House edge of Santa Fe.
In the flames from these matches I remember weekends made vivid by hot chilis, bold weavings on white adobe walls and the glow of luminarias, those traditional New Mexican candles that flicker along plaza paths and driveways.
In the same cache is a beige matchbox with the thumbprint of a petroglyph, a Rockresort logo that reminds me of the joys of hiding out at Caneel Bay Plantation on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John.
Trunk Bay, east of Caneel, is one of my favorite beaches for lazy snorkeling. The reef at the far left of the wide white beach--as you face the Caribbean--is rich with parrotfish and the comical sergeants major.
Other matches bring other moods. I recall the sheer luxury of arriving at the Mount Kenya Safari Club on the slopes of Mt. Kenya after dusty days of camping amid the wildlife preserves of East Africa.
The lawns and gardens of this resort, with its bird sanctuary and chattering chimpanzees, are riveting splotches of green and fuchsia, tossed like bouquets upon the tan earth.
I remember the farm-cottage rooms and the extraordinary kitchen of Les Moulins de Duc near the village of Moelan-sur-Mer on the south shore of Brittany. I remember the mammoth hearth in my room and the tempting stack of trunk-size logs nearby.
I remember flinging open the cottage windows on that balmy spring day and listening to the mill stream and to the meadowlarks and knowing that it was too warm for a blazing fire.
I lighted the candle beside my bed instead, and made a wish to return in a cooler season.
A treasured box of matches is from a chic and clubby Stockholm restaurant called K. B., for Konstnarshuset Bar. The small rendezvous opened in 1931 as an artists' bar; original paintings and murals reflect this heritage.
After a supper of salmon with dill, and golden cloudberries for dessert, I joined a toast to Swedish friends and to this restaurant of candlelight in a city of candles.