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What’s that smell?

How long has it been since you truly appreciated the gift of smell? I was in the car the other day and detected an odor that I thought was either dog poo or garbage. Wracking my brain, I realized it was the paper towels I’d used when cleaning pig and donkey muck off of my cute, lime green rain boots. There was no getting away from that awful smell until I found the source. 

Smells stick with us. Some are terrible and some prompt a smile. Here are some of my favorites: 

Whenever I smell coconut, it reminds me of summer days spent at the pool at Cove Lake State Park and of spring afternoons on the roof of my dorm at the University of Tennessee. That was back in the 70’s and 80’s when we liberally applied coconut scented suntan oil all over our bodies in a desire to be golden brown. I no longer lay out in the sun, but I do love that scent and regularly choose it when picking out hair products.

The smell of wood smoke evokes memories of camping at the lake with my parents and grandparents and roasting marshmallows over the campfire. (I ate so many charred marshmallows that I got sick and had an aversion to the gooey treat for years.) Now we have a building where I get to smell woodsmoke on a regular basis and I love it.

One of my favorite scents is freshly mown grass. When I was growing up I smelled it after my mom cut our lawn, when jogging past neighbors’ homes or when we drove through the country roads with the windows down. Nowadays, I get to experience the cut grass smell on a grand scale on our farm, Purdon Groves. About half of the 21 acres is pastureland which requires mowing. Hopefully we’ll get some dry weather soon so that my husband Houston can get on his tractor and start mowing those big fields. 

Whenever people mention “dog smell” they’re probably referring to something unpleasant, like the odor of a wet dog or the aforementioned dog poo they picked up on their shoe while on a walk. But dogs have another smell. Just wait a day after their bath and you’ll smell it. It’s what I call an “honest smell.” There’s no pretense, just the smell of your companion - a being who has your back no matter what. It’s the smell of comfort.

The odor I experienced the other day in my car isn’t one I enjoy, but it did cause me to reminisce on all the pleasant smells I do like. As an added bonus, it made me grateful for not only the sense of smell, but also for all of the other senses that enrich my life every single day.

This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the May 25, 2024 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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