Smell

I am going to attempt to find beauty in the five senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch) and write about it. There is enough ugly in the world, I am challenging myself to find beauty everywhere. These will obviously be specific to me, but hopefully some inspiration will be sparked for you to find your own specific beauty similarly.

Today’s sense is smell.

There are probably three different themes that emerge from my brain almost immediately when I think of smell: vetiver, rain, and camp fires.

vetiver extraordinaireVetiver essential oil is one of the most often used ingredients in perfumes and colognes. Usually in small doses. It adds a deep woodsy, smoky, earthy balsam note to otherwise crisp and clean scents. I personally love Frederic Malle’s Vetiver Extraordinaire.

PetrichorDrowning up in the Pacific North West, I never really got to experience smelling fresh rain because it was always raining. Or I always experienced it and had no point of reference? My first summer at Interlochen I experienced flash thunderstorms where it would be beautiful and sunny, the clouds would roll in and rain would pour down on the hot pavement, creating steam and the smell of fresh rain. The clouds would leave as quickly as they came. There is actually a word for that scent:

Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɨkɔər/) is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek, petra, meaning “stone”, + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

I am not alone in my appreciation of the scent of rain and it is theorized that most humans appreciate it because our ancestors probably relied on rainy weather for survival.

campfireThe appreciation of the smell of campfires are probably similarly part of our collective experience. Unless your home burned down and was made entirely of sweet smelling cedar, the smell of campfires probably triggers a scent memory of a fun time you had in your past. I immediately think of campfires out at my grandparent’s lake house with my grandfather. That is probably one of my earliest memories, all the way up to last night at the Equinox Studios art collective Very Open House event last night, there were fire pits stationed throughout the compound. I left with my clothes full of campfire smoke.

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2 comments

  1. I love love love the sweet woodsy evergreen smell that immediately enters my nostrils when I get out of the car at the lake. I always inhale it greedily as I walk towards the cabin. I have a fond scent memory from picnics at Twanoh when I was little: salt water, camp fires, evergreens, and hot dogs & beans on the camp stove. And the smell of aged cedar logs always reminds me of Grandpa Parker’s cellar, where the wood for the wood stove was stored. Grandma Parker cooked on a wood stove until I was 8 or so, and their cellar always smelled soooo good, even after she got her electric stove.

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