Opening a 10kg box of musk sticks for the very first time is a Powerful Experience.
All that pent-up scent just hits you like a truck,
But it has to be inhaled personally to be believed.
Let me just say, for those of you who have never had the pleasure, that it's a blast.
Your average Australian of the 1960s and 70s grew up with the Local Lolly Shop, where you could take the hard-earned money you'd made that day by walking the three miles to school instead of catching the bus like a normal person, and buy yourself a small bag of mixed lollies.
No self-respecting lolly shop in Australia (that didn't want to be firebombed) would ever have dreamed of running out of musk sticks. To not have a musk stick poking out the top of your lolly bag (or a sherbet bomb sitting at the bottom, to be saved till last) was, quite simply, unthinkable, and the prospect of facing down the wall-eyed expression of a child with 11 cents in her hand, a whole day of sugar on her mind, and a visceral need for musk, was probably more than a lolly shop owner's life was worth.
Musk sticks were a Constant of Life. Ubiquitous. Omnipresent. You could depend on their existence the way you could depend on your Nana still loving you tomorrow, no matter how much of a little shit you'd been today. In my whole childhood, I don't believe I ever once bought a bag of mixed lollies that didn't have at least one musk stick in it. Nor did I ever know them to be unavailable for purchase. In the changeable and often treacherous world of children, there was comfort and security to be found in the constancy and reliability of the humble musk stick.
Sadly, as a grown up, the actual taste of musk sticks doesn't live up to my nostalgic expectations. Perhaps they changed somewhere down the line. Maybe I just got old. I'm yet to see anyone under 15 complain about the flavour, but I'm pretty sure it's not the same.
Never mind. You can't have everything. I'm perfectly content just to dangle my face over the box, inhale deeply, and sigh with pleasure. I can just smell the prana....