Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.
A few weeks ago I was talking with a young friend, Evan. He’s thirteen, a mixture of honesty and innocence. He’s an observer, always looking and assimilating his surroundings. He is much more wise than I was at his age. I sometimes tease him to see how he reacts. His reactions always reveal an inner process of deep thinking. I sometimes wonder how many ideas are churned and tossed aside before he comments.
As we talked Evan said, “You will probably think I’m weird, but I like the smell of manure.”
Evan’s parents send him to a relative’s farm for a few weeks each summer. He’s experiencing something that will bind him to the country and the farm for his entire life. That’s an amazing thing. It’s the gift of work and the pleasure that goes with it.
His comment struck me as anything but weird. It immediately conjured my memories of working on a farm in rural Ohio when I was his age.
There is a sweet, organic, and bucolic ambiance to that odor. When mixed with freshly, mowed hay, oats from a grain bin, and the odor of tractor’s engine. It is in no way offensive.
There is nothing to compare with walking into a barn after a hard day’s work and laying on a bed of straw while collecting your thoughts and easing your soul. Those odors let you know you did a hard day’s work and you deserve a rest. No health spa annual fees needed here.
Than there is the trudge through the barn yard. You stop at the well and draw water into a tin cup. You take a long drink. You draw another cup and pour it over your head. A bar of soup is removed from a tray attached to the pump and hands are scrubbed surgically clean (well, almost). Water is splashed on your face along with the scent from the soap. You dry off with a towel, fresh and stiff. You walk in the back door or an un-air-conditioned farmhouse to the sound of a rusty screen door spring. You are greeted by the confluence of odors from well water, a beef pot roast surrounded by potatoes and carrots. There is also the sweet aroma of apple pie with cinnamon.
“No, Evan,” I said. “That’s not weird.”