Sense of Smell

Super nice out today, so I took Brody for an extra long walk.  He was so happy, trotting along, sniffing everything he could get at.  He was especially glad to not have to wear his coat or boots, I think!

Along the way, we caught the scent of woodsmoke.  A ton of houses in my area have fireplaces, and I think the smell of wood burning might be one of my favourite scents ever.  It’s different from other things burning – like toast – and is instead a warm, comforting scent that, for me, stirs up happy memories.

Are there scented candles that smell like wood-burning stoves or campfires or anything like that?  Because there should be.

Smell is one of our most powerful senses, and yet is quite often overlooked.  It’s linked very strongly to memory, and also to taste, as evidenced when one has a cold, for example.

I remember when I was quitting smoking, I was told I’d develop a greater sense of taste and smell fairly quickly.  Unfortunately for me, it was still kind of spring time, and everything I smelled was bad.  What a waste of a returning scent.

Some smells make me hungry, even if I’ve just eaten.  Bacon, bread baking, vanilla/cookies, pretty much anything on a barbecue.  Vinegar makes me want fries.  I guess in some way the scent of most foods make me hungry, but there are definitely a few that are tough to ignore.

I doubt I can even name the majority of smells that unlock memories for me.  Not all of the memories are good, either.  And some keep changing.  Like lilies will always make me think of Alysia now, if for no other reason than that we all wore them to her celebration of life, and they were everywhere that day.  Wood burning reminds me of being at Grandpa and Grandma’s, mostly.  Pies baking reminds me of my mom baking every weekend when I was young.

See now I want pie.  Where was I?

Certain perfumes and colognes of course.  What was that one all the guys were bathing in back in the 80’s?  Brut?

Some scents I don’t like still hold good memories.  Like, I don’t love the smell of mittens, toques, socks and/or those boot liner things Grandpa used to wear drying – and burning – by the wood stove or the heaters at home, but I do love the memories associated with having played in the snow and finally coming inside, out of breath, our cheeks flushed and our eyes shining with excitement.  I don’t love wet dog smell, but I adore dogs, especially happy ones who’ve just gotten soaked from playing out in the rain or a lake or what-have-you.  I don’t really love the smell of fresh-tilled dirt, but I do sort of love that it smells like life.  And I love the smell of fresh-cut grass, yet not when it gets rained on.  Wet cut grass smells groddy.

Sometimes it goes the other way, too.  I don’t even drink coffee, yet lI love the scent of it percolating.

Naturally, there are also a bazillion smells that I don’t like , nor do I like what caused them, nor do I like memories they may or may not stir up.

For example, liver.  Keep that crud away from me!

As Brody and I walk along, and I watch him sniffing away, I’m simultaneously awed by how much better a dog’s sense of smell is than ours will ever be, and also glad that mine isn’t that good, because there’s a lot of scents I could really do without as it is.  Imagine, though, what it would be like – for our palette to recognize even more flavours, for our memories to be even sharper at the re-introduction of a particular scent even years later.  I wonder if our minds would continue to store all of that information, or if it would let it go again, just as easily as we took it in?

I wonder if Hudson the polar bear would still remember me by my scent, were he to see me now?



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