One of the first "real" books I remember reading when I was about 7 or 8 was Flambards by K.M. Peyton. The book is the first of a trilogy, and I read it because 1) it was about horses and I was horse-mad; and 2) it had been made into a UK mini series and my parents had let me watch it. Thirteen half-hour episodes of absolute delight. As for the books, I love them still, though my copies are stained, dog earred and falling apart. I adore them all: Christina, her cousins WIll and Mark, her crusty uncle and sweet Dick (who actually rather annoys me a bit now). I love the horses and Will's flying machines, and Dorothy and Sandy. And while everyone I knew cried buckets over Black Beauty, my tears were all for Sweetbriar. I still skip that chapter sometimes.
Somehow, and I can't explain it other than to say in that weird way connections are somehow forged, I forever associate the books with a certain smell, and the smell with a certain feeling. On cool fall or spring mornings when the ground is wet and the air is still, the country gets that aroma. If you've experienced it you'll know what I mean. It's wet leaves and rich earth, new life and decaying vegetation, mellowed aromas and sharp pungency all mixed together in an intoxicating brew. It reminds me of stables and sawdust and barns and gorse bushes. Of horse sweat, and horse hair, and the damp tendrils of hair that tumble down your back when you take off your bowler. It's oak and meadows and the silence in between hoof beats, and the dew on the grass and the glistening cobwebs along the fencerows. It's sodden leaves sticking to your boots, and the smell of leather reins and saddle polish, and lamb roasting in the kitchen.
Yes, somehow mine and Christina's Flambards life got all mixed up and to this day I can go outside, get a whiff of that smell and think to myself, It's a Flambards Day.