Posts Tagged With: smell


The Nose Knows

It’s Gratituesday!! I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate my lovely nose and it’s amazing abilities to open up the world and all it’s delights to me. Today I’m once again thankful for that sense, but in a different way.

You see, I’ve been extra sensitive to smells lately.

Maybe I’m just finally coming out of the seasonal allergy haze and fog.

While reading out on my front porch swing I distinctly noticed a smell I knew that I knew but couldn’t identify at first. I kept reading, but part of my brain went on a search for the name of the smell drifting about the front yard. It smelled vaguely of rain, but looking up I noticed not a cloud touched the sky. Then I looked around and finally saw the source and explanation of the smell. It resembled rain only in that water and cement were conversing. Water ran down the gutter in front of my house, just a small trickle, but enough to set my nose tingling.

Photo By Keith Weller%2C U.S. Department of Agriculture [Public domain]

Photo By Keith Weller%2C USDA [Public domain]

Went out for burgers with MSH the other night and the shake had a smell I couldn’t let go. Made it difficult to enjoy the ice cream. I asked him to smell it and he said, “smells like raspberries and vanilla ice cream.” I thought it smelled a little too…dairy farm. Perhaps the metal shake mixer hadn’t been washed very well all day. I don’t know.

I’ve noticed my hands continue to hold on to scents even after I’ve washed them, particular after doing yard work. Dusty, sweaty, soil-ish, leafy, rocky, rake handley. Yes the handle of a rake has a smell. Don’t believe me? Go out to your garage or shed and see what I’m talking about.

Tomatoes hanging on the vine send a distinct smell into the back yard. That’d be expected if I touched the plant, but I was quite a distance from the green and pink orbs and still felt very aware of the tang of tomato leaf.

Have you ever smelled carrots just pulled from the ground? That, my friend, bares experiencing. Mmm, good. Even if you don’t like carrots.

Right now some trees are blooming with big purple clusters. To me they smell like artificial grape flavoring. But I’m probably off my rocker. And then, my son’s been using wood tools in the garage which leaves behind the delicious smell of sawdust, which is a favorite scent, right next to campfire smoke and bacon mixed with fresh mountain air.

Even rinsing the split peas recently to make use of the leftover Easter ham placed the smell of those peas into my head like a thick curtain. Have you ever noticed the smell of split peas? I don’t remember ever noticing how they smell. Sure, the soup cooking smells great, but that’s a different thing than just wet split peas. Try it some time.

The smell of a swamp cooler has made its way into my truck, which makes no sense whatsoever. Sure I’ve run the AC a bit since we’ve flirted with temperatures in the nineties, but where would a damp smell come from in the dry air of Arizona?

Photo By Jeremie63 (Own work)  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Jeremie63 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

I think it all started a few weeks ago when MSH spilled milk on the family room rug. He hadn’t mentioned it to me since he cleaned it up as best he could with some towels, but a day later the whole house smelled like something had died. I cleaned out some weird places trying to find the source of that horrific smell. Finally, MSH mentioned the milk spill and that explained it all. We dragged the 8×10 foot rug outside to the patio table and hosed it off, scrubbed it, hosed it off again and let it dry for two days. The smell went away, but my nose, apparently, never recovered from the assault.

Now I notice every little molecule of weird smells.

The difference in the toothpaste I use and the toothpaste MSH uses smells distinctly separate. And bread just a couple of days old starts to smell too yeasty for my palate.

Surely you’ve noticed that the DMV smells like stale cigarette smoke mixed up with shoes that have been left out in the sun for a month. As if that place doesn’t have enough reasons to avoid it.

If you happen to see me with a sour or confused look on my face, don’t take it personally. I’m probably just deciphering some odd smell that’s attacked my senses. It’s been an interesting olfactory journey the past few weeks for which I’m strangely thankful.

In the meantime I think I’m going to get some spicy Thai food and see if I can’t shock the old schnoz into behaving normally.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

There’s Something in the Air

Cow female black white

On opening the microwave door today I caught whiff yesterday mornings bacon smell and was mentally propelled into my paternal grandparents home.  It was quite nearly like being teleported. Certain brands of coffee brewing will take me there, as will Grandpa’s brand of cigarettes, a smell I find oddly endearing, precisely because it is so closely associated with memories of my Grandfather.  Grandma wouldn’t let him smoke inside the house, so he went out to the garage, or the garden when he needed to light up.  If we couldn’t find Grandpa in the house, we knew we could find him outdoors simply by following our noses.  And the bacon?  When our family visited they cooked up a storm for us.  Mounded heaps of pancakes, sausage and bacon sat center stage at their table.  Grandpa was the cook.  Grandma sat at the table sipping her morning coffee overseeing our amazingly decadent feast.  We didn’t get bacon at our house. That was a luxury item.

Smell is surely the most evocative of all the memories.

Lilacs used to grow along our backyard fence when I was very young.  That heady fragrance carries with it a sense of calm and a feeling that all is right with the world.

My favorite restaurant experience ever was less about the five-star service and phenomenal food and more due to the fact that they used wood fired stoves.  I have many, many cherished memories of cooking over a camp fire, so the wood smoke atmosphere lent an ambiance to the meal that could be had not other way.

Old Spice cologne brings out memories of my dad.  Falling asleep in church with my head leaning against his shoulder stands out particularly.  He also carried in his pocket a small container of mint lifesavers, broken into fourths.  That waft of mint in the air will place my thoughts squarely in a church pew, a sermon droning, sleepiness weighing my eyes down.

Fresh cut grass transports me to the park I grew up nearby.  When that scent hits the air in my head I’m rolling down hills, catching fly balls and throwing Frisbees.

Books have a certain smell, especially library books.  It’s a sort of musty, dusty, inky papery scent that sets me down on the couch next to mom hearing her reading.  The melody of her voice drifts across the years and settles in at the very center of me.  The world all-akimbo rights itself from that one singular sensation.  Who knew the power that could be found in the smell a book carries.

I worked in a print shop for a year once.  Never thought I’d get over being blown away by the strong ink smell that permeated every atom in the building.  No surprise in that connection of  ink and words.  For me, the print shop placed me one tiny step closer to my childhood dream of someday being published, having my words set down in ink.  And so the smell of printer’s ink is the call and promise of a distant dream, a hope in the air.

A dairy farm is distinctly aromatic.  For most people it isn’t a pleasant distinction.  I spent a week once, and a few days over the years, in the company of a happy family who owned dairy cows, and with them  the required hay fields,  farm machinery, and relaxed country drawl.  I adored helping out at milking time.  It was a mechanized operation that fascinated me.  My job was to pull the lever that sent a shower of grain into a feeding trough for the beautiful black and white beasts to munch on as the suction cups emptied their udders.  It was an important job!  The smell of manure, grain, milk and dust was a heady thing, full of responsibility, pride and usefulness.  Those smells to this day conjure such wonder-filled emotions.

I can tell that today will be a day of breathing deeply and searching for memories in those breaths.

Is there a scent or fragrance richly tied to memory for you?  Have you ever been surprised by a smell, having been, until that moment, unaware of the power of it’s chemistry?




Categories: Memory Lane | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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