Monday, June 8, 2015

Smell That?

Of our six senses the most evocative is our sense of smell. This came to mind a few days ago as I contemplated the upcoming visit of our #2 son and his daughters. Last summer, Lillie, the youngest, made a remark as she came through our back door, “Aw, that wonderful smell of Grandma’s house.” She was smiling when she said it, so I knew it wasn’t a bad thing – like Grandpa’s socks strolling over to greet her. It made me smile.

While visiting Texas in March a similar thing happened when I first walked into my brother’s home. Some pleasant fragrance graces nearly every room in the house, kind of an antique store boutique-y thing. Later I learned from my sister-in-law that essential oils may have something g to do with it. She uses them in several ways and the scent of cedar, lemon, pine and other natural odors lightly permeate the air. I’ve just ordered a “beginners sampler” from Amazon – the socks don’t have a prayer!

One of my favorite authors, James Herriot, who wrote of his life as a country vet in 1930’s Yorkshire, mentions smell in his books. His favorites differ markedly from mine, however. Rich animal scents like hay, muck and clover did it for him. Entering a barn was a mountain top experience. I have to admit there is some appeal there – well – except for the muck (read poo). I think of Herriot whenever I pass a farm.

Let me ask you this. If you were blindfolded and taken from house to house, could you tell whose home, among friends and family, you were in just by the smell? I could, even if all sound was deadened and the road to get there was well disguised. Maybe this is what we have in common with the canine. Even though their sense of smell is 30 times greater than that of a human, still I can appreciate why they sniff everything (okay, not the crotch area, which the family dogs seem to go for first) in order to identify their surroundings. 

Something yummy baking in the oven. Sheets fresh off the clothesline on a windy day. The whiff of a once loved perfume. The pencil shavings, floor wax, gym shorts, and chalk odors from the classroom. An over-full bowl of brilliant red strawberries. Go ahead, plunge your nose into them. Lavender, sweet basil, or wild roses, here today and gone tomorrow but leaving a scent memory behind.

As you go about your day today, do it with your nose on high alert. Put  your sixth sense, which has to be related to smell, to work and pile up some scent memories. Your life will be richer for it. As for me, I’ll be out there smelling the rain.

Image: Free Digital Photos    


  1. Jennifer Brown BanksJune 8, 2015 at 7:16 AM

    I really enjoyed this post, Sue. And it gave me some useful ideas for my upcoming birthday and the entertainment of friends. I love the smell of baked goods permeating the house, scented candles, and potpourri. If you have any good experiences with anything you purchase, please pass it on. :-)