Friday, October 29, 2004


I've talked about colors and glow worms and lots of sights, but like Sweet William slighting Barbara Allen, I've slighted smells.

My dad was a pharmacist so I grew up in a drug store. At Christmas we sold a lot of perfume gift sets. My mom, who fancied herself rather cultured in a hillbilly way, would sometimes say something incongruous like, "This Emeraude has a really good odor." No matter where he was in the store, my dad's ear would always pick that up and he would lecture her: "It is not 'odor'; it is 'fragrance'." My mom would just laugh because she had just said it that way because it was funny.

Well, odors, fragrance, smells, all of it is so connected with memory and emotion. When I lived in an apartment in town I would occassionally have a day free of work and school and would take off on my favorite hike: Hanging Rock to The Falls, up and down Little Stoney Creek. Having been confined to city living the smell of the woods and creek and land would overwhelm me. I would breath deep, smelling life and death in one breath and feeling the connectedness of all things.

Here smells can be subtle like that smell of life springing and death rotting that is the woods and creek smell, or very large like the acrid stink of billy goats or skunks. Except even the very large smells can be subtle, like where the goats and skunks have been recently but aren't any more. This time of year there are plenty of fallen leaves and that rather musty, moldy smell with them. Lots of fog which makes it rather moldier. The first smokey fires to keep warm with. The crisp clearness of frosty sunny mornings. The washed smell after a rain.

Oftentimes in the mornings and evenings when I'm milking it is cool so I put on a shirt jacket. That shirt jacket smells pretty much exactly like the cow smells. The years I didn't have a horse the thing I think I missed the most about having a horse were those horse smells -- sweet horse breath, dusty horse smell, horse manure, leather soaked with sweat.

I love all those smells.

I hate the odor of perfume!

1 comment:

Joe Tornatore said...

When my dad was alive he wore this light windbreaker in the spring and fall. after he died, I inherited the jacket. four years since he has been gone, I can still smell his scent on the jacket. it was odor then, it is fragrance now.