It’s been too long since I smelled something delectable that pushed my forehead back, closed my eyes, and nudged a smile. Perhaps it’s my office environment stifling my entire sensory experience. Perhaps it’s an overabundance of artificial scents that leave me wanting something raw, natural, and rugged.
Scents are thick and powerful whether they’re from an outhouse or a bakery, a lotion bottle or a breeze. I think we take them for granted because we forget how much they color our living experience.
Every day when I walk from the parking lot of my apartment building into the hallway I smell the air, trying to classify it, pinpoint it, discover if it’s different than it was a few hours before. Yesterday I encountered the wafting sweetness of instant oatmeal in the stairway, pondered on it, wandering into it a bit longer. I love that smell. Why was it in the stairwell? Quite a pleasant change from the cleaning solution that normally dots the olfactory landscape.
Then from the hallway to my apartment I take a usually deep breath, letting my home’s environment provide a mood, a sensation on my face. If the smell is unpleasant (as it was at lunch today when I realized I left an empty milk jug, mountain dew can, and skillet meal wrapper out on the counter for too long), then I can’t feel at home for an extended period of time. If it’s cool, crisp, and clean, my eyelids sink down halfway and my shoulders release some of their tension, sending stress down to my fingertips and toes, floating and away from me as I toss my purse on the table and kick off my shoes by the door.
I don’t think writing about smells is thrilling or thought-provoking, but so often I find that we glorify the other senses given to us. We praise the taste of food, the sight of an attractive body, the feeling of a chenille pillow, and so on. When was the last time we delighted over the smell of a burnt match? Freshly mowed grass? The inside of a cathedral?