We have a new weblog tour question! As usual, after I’m done, readers are encouraged to post their own answer in the comment box.
What’s your favourite smell in the world and why?
Scent is the least-used descriptor in novels and literary nonfiction. Consider how often a main character is described: you’ll get his height, his build, what his voice sounds like, but never what he or she smells like. In fact, one way to make sure an editor takes notice of your writing is to describe the scent of your setting right on the first page.
Despite that, scent is a powerful sense. Or possibly because of that: something of which you’re barely aware many times can dictate your initial response to a thing or a person. Women in arranged marriages often dislike the scent of their husbands, whereas women who choose their own spouse most often like the way he smells. Individuals selling their homes will often bake cookies or bread right before a showing in order to give their house “that homey feel.” Everyone, apparently, wants to believe they will turn into a whole-foods chef and produce nourishing meals for their family the instant they buy a home.
So, what’s my favorite smell? It’s nostalgia.
You’re going to laugh at me, but one of the things I associate with the past is the way the place smells. It isn’t something I can summon in my head when I want to. But sometimes, when I think about places I used to live, or people who have died, I’ll recall the scent of the house, the scent of that person’s cooking.
I think of college and sometimes I can smell my old dorm room, or the dry smell of dusty paper in the library.
Several times after Emily died, I caught her scent. Once in my bedroom where Kiddo#3 was sleeping, and the air was so still and silent that I could feel her presence even before the smell evoked her memory. I smelled it several times in Kiddo#2’s hair. And always, always the smell of chrism reminds me of holding her in the hospital as the chaplain anointed her, and it makes me cry.
Scents are an unmarked exit from the present into the past. There are smells I love when I come across them, but the best ones are the unexpected memories of smells that bring me back in time unawares.
Other stops on the weblog tour are:
http://wryexchange.com/ Wry Exchange
http://fatgirlartist.blogspot.com/ Amy Rose
http://www.drunkenhousewife.com/ The Drunken Housewife
http://hijinksshenanigans.blogspot.com/ Hijinks’s Shenanigans