: sniiiiiff : Oh yeah, that’s the stuff

Earlier today, in a meeting at work, one of my teammates was given a gift from our clients. It was a really nifty wool stadium blanket.

Another lady asked to look at it, and when it landed in her hands, she brought it to her nose and took a good deep smell.

Just writing that…I know you know that smell, right? Nothing else smells like wool.

I smiled, because I was across the table and I knew exactly what she was smelling. I thought to myself about my own memories of the smell of wool.

Usually winter, outside, snowy day in Albuquerque (the only time it would be cold enough to wear a wool sweater). That perfect storm of smells combined, wool, a snowy day, a bit of sweat and the dirt on my mittens (that got there from making a snowball to lob, offline, at my brother).


So then this got me thinking about the deep associations made from odors, both good and bad.

But I was thinking about good…about the smells I deeply love.

The first that immediately came to mind was leather. I mean, unless you are a PETA advocate, who doesn’t love the smell of good leather?

Just that smell can dredge up lots of happy memories.

Like…the combined smell of leather and saddle soap you get upon opening the door to a tack room. Especially when I was taking riding classes at NMSU, because that tack room had rows and rows of saddles, all smelling nice.

Or…back when we first started dating, The Good Man had this black hard-leather jacket. It’s now too big for him and I think he recently gave it away, but I can easily remember that smell. Hugging him really tight, sinking my face into the shoulder of that jacket and inhaling deeply, tattooing the scent of cute boy and leather deeply into every single cell of my being.


Or, or….how about the smell of a new baseball glove? So many kids will get a new glove and spend lots of time with that thing firmly over the face inhaling. Nothing like that smell.

But I seem to be stuck on leather…

What’s another good smell?

Oh, I know! So…up and down the peninsula here, they have tons of Eucalyptus trees. Early in the morning or very late at night (depending on what side of the nightclub you’re on), when you get the heavy damp fog, it makes those trees let go that very distinctive scent.

The moist, cool damp and Eucalyptus smell… when I travel somewhere else, and then come home, I always latch on to that smell first. It’s SO the Bay Area. Easily identifiable by anyone who has ever lived here.

Here’s an easy one for all the New Mexico folks…the smell of chiles roasting. Utterly identifiable…for miles. So reminiscent of home.

Summer rain on hot pavement. God I love that smell!

Sheets washed with Downy and dried on the clothesline. Haven’t done it in years, so who knows if it smells good anymore? Doesn’t matter, in my memories, it’s always fantastic. I think it helped being in NM because stuff dried really fast and didn’t pick up too much environmental yuck.

Home baked cinnamon rolls served on Christmas morning.

The soap and water smell of my husband just after he emerges from the shower. So delicious! (ok, that’s two about The Good Man, sorry!)

This is kind of funny, but how about the first time you noticed the distinctive smell of money? For me, it was after getting paid allowance for the first time with the kind of money that folded, not jingled. That dollar bill smelled like potential to me.

Aw, heck, I suppose I could go on all night this way.

I’m sure there’s some scientist who would explain how odors can make such vivid memories (like here), but I don’t need to know the science.

Right now, I’m sitting on the couch, watching a baseball game…thinking of how the yard smells on a nice July night like this. Garlic fries, hot dogs and marine layer.


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  • Lucky

    Roasting green chile is one of my new ones.

    But when I was a kid, in NY, winter was always the smell of the pretzel carts. I can't describe it adequately – salt, charcoal, hot metal, baking pretzels – all rolled into one. My mother would never let us eat one, but my dad and grandma did all the time, that's what our immune systems were for!

    Crazy – sitting here with the swamp cooler on I am transported right back to a Manhattan sidewalk!

  • Elise

    Rain on hot asphalt is the best smell on the planet.

    When I lived in Hermosa Beach, there was a walking/jogging trail that ran right behind my house, parallel to the beach. It was soft with bark and planted on both sides with flowers and eucalyptus. Every morning about 7am, I jog-walked from my house to the post office in Manhattan Beach and back. That trail smelled like HEAVEN.

  • Ken

    Burning leaves in the fall — at least if you're old enough to remember when it was permitted.

    Campfires on a chilly night (sometimes even the fireplaces around my neighborhood, especially early in the fall when it's still new to the season).

    Pińon coffee (as I write).

  • Karen Fayeth

    Campfire! Yes, I thought of that right after I'd published the post. That's a good one! Especially made with slightly green piñon wood. Crackly!

    And burning leaves, yes! Also, when the farmers burn the stubble off the fields. Maybe I'm weird, but I dig that smell.

    Lucky and Elise…funny how smells we think of are so often associated with home. I can bring up about a dozen of those without trying (the lilac tree in the yard, the cinder block wall, the interior of my dad's garage….)

  • Emmett

    I got lost again…

    And forgot burning leaves and campfire and percolated coffee!

    Nothing goes to the base of the brain so fast!

    Diesel exhaust
    Book musty

    Rain in the desert

    Chilies roasting outdoors

    Pork on the grill

    This perfume Elise likes….

  • Karen Fayeth

    Emmett – proof that you are my brother from another mother…

    Diesel exhaust. yes! I also LOVE the sound of a diesel engine rack-rack-racking along.


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