“Each day has a color, a smell.”

It is a put a mirror under her nose to make sure she’s breathing sort of morning. I went to bed really late, or early if you’re a stickler for exactitude, as I just wasn’t tired. I watched bad movies, read a bit and shopped through some catalogs. It was nearly ten when I woke up. Even the animals slept in with me. The day is rainy and chilly. I think I chose a good morning to stay in bed. I hate wasting sun.

Smells are amazing. They let us travel through time and space. One of my favorites is the aroma of freshly baked bread. When I was a kid, two bakeries in the square made their own bread, and I’d sometimes buy a roll still hot from the oven. It didn’t need butter. It was sweet enough on its own.

Fall is still the smell of burning leaves for me. I always thought of smoke signals when I saw piles of burning leaves with their gray smoke snaking into the air. In my memory, the day was always chilly and standing near the fire was warming. My clothes smelled like the burning leaves, and I hated to put them in the wash. Christmas smells like a fir tree. I remember walking downstairs every morning and smelling the tree in the living room. Christmas couldn’t come soon enough. On Thanksgiving, the house was filled with the smell of the turkey roasting in the oven. The kitchen windows were covered in steam, and I couldn’t see outside. I’d watch my mother baste the turkey, and we’d share a small piece of the crusted stuffing she’d pull off the end.

The smell of charcoal lighter fluid brings back my father. He was a firm believer in soaking the briquettes, and as soon as a match hit them, the flame would rise high into the sky. The whoosh of the fire always sent him reeling backwards. He set his pant legs on fire many times.

Burning wood is Ghana. Everyone used wood charcoal. Some villages were charcoal villages, and long logs were kept smoldering to make the charcoal. Every morning I smelled sweet burning wood as my breakfast was cooked on a small round charcoal burner. First it was the water for coffee, then the eggs while the toast leaned on the burner and was turned so both sides would brown. My dinner was cooked the same way.

At night, the sides of the street were filled with women selling food. They fried plantains in white enamel pots over wood fires or roasted skewers of Guinea fowl and chicken on screens over the fires. The town was mostly dark so the small fires looked like bright, low flickering street lights. The whole town smelled like wood burning, like a cozy fire in winter.

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12 Comments on ““Each day has a color, a smell.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    The day has been rather nice over here. The sun shined all day and it was quite pleasant if one could avoid the wind. Now it´s dark, cold and really windy outside and it feels like the wind reaches me here in my little cottage too 🙂

    Now days I think of fire in the stoves when I feel the smoke in the air or burning hay balls that has become to old. But when I was younger I always was thinking of burning houses and corpses 🙂 My mother must have scared the sh.. out of me so I wouldn´t use matches or play with fire.

    Most houses in my old neighborhood were made of wood and they often burned because drunks tried to lit a fire in their stoves, Central heating were a luxury in those houses back then 🙂

    I´m going to write about a smell I felt yesterday at work (if I remember it) in my blog on Thursday. It took me back over 40 years and I could see, in my mind, how my old home town looked back then :-)That almost never happens to me otherwise 🙂

    I´m moving here to Word Press on thursday and I have already a link in my old blog and I will post it again on Thursday.

    Have a great day now!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      This was day 2 of rain, and we’re expecting more until Friday. That’s okay, though, as we’ve had a dry fall.

      Smells do bring us so far back in time.

      I have changed your link on Coffee to the new blog.

  2. Zoey & Me Says:

    It was the time of year also for burning leaves in the yard on weekends which was the perfect excuse to rekindle a friendship with a neighbor or two. Stand around and watch each other’s masterpiece, shoveling some to make it look like work, and ending with a beer on someone’s back doorstep. Fall weekends were the best. If you weren’t out hiking in the mountains; kids were taking long bike trails around Georgetown; or playing in the mountain of leaves left for the County to pick up on Monday. A wonderful season is upon us.

    • katry Says:

      Z&Me,
      This is my favorite season. It looks beautiful, smells clear and clean and is still fairly warm. Nothing prettier than the fall.

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Fall is my favorite season. I love the smell of damp leaves as I rake. In my yard I have black walnut trees so the lawn is peppered with walnuts. The smell they give off is wonderful; sharp, astringent and green. When the first ones fall, often times I’ll pick one up and walk around with it under my nose, taking big sniffs. It’s almost as good as sniffing a newly creosoted telephone pole. Now there’s another wonderful smell from the days of yore. 🙂
    We’re not allowed to burn leaves anymore but sometimes, I will make a tiny pile of leaves and light a ritual fire to remember that smell of autumn.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Wow, thanks for bringing back the memory of the creosoted telephone poles. That is such a distinct smell. I remembering kicking up the damp leaves in the gutters so I know that smell.

  4. Hedley Says:

    Our home was fueled by coal and coke. We had a double bunker in the back of the house which was filled from tar bags by the coal man. The bunkers made an excellent hidding place when half full.
    The furnace was in the kitchen and filled with coke, and the fireplace in the living room took coal. There was no heated upstairs except electric bars mounted to the wall and activated by a pull string.
    It does all sound Monty Pythonesk (luxury)but the idea of forced air and central heating were many years away

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I have never smelled coal or coke burning. We had radiators when I was a kid, and I remember the smell of steam as the hot water coursed through the radiator.

      Was the upstairs cold? In Morocco, the bedroom had one of those electric bars on the wall. It was the first time I’d seen one. The night was chilly so I pulled the chain, but it didn’t help much.

  5. katry Says:

    My Dear Hedley,
    I have always loved that word.

  6. Bert Says:

    Incredibly atmospheric picture.Like many of the pictures you choose they bring about many questions I’d like answered about them.
    My first parental house dates from the 17th century. Up to my 5th or 6th we had everything there that was there in the 17th century already. Things you’ll find nowhere in the western society nowadays. Like a privy, where my mother plunged water after every usage and brushed with bleach like she could possibly die otherwise. In the kitchen we had a cupboard for bread as well as for peat and a cupboard-bed, where mother kept the tools for laundry.
    My brothers and I were fascinated when we finally got a water closet and we flushed it till mother boxed our ears.
    In my memory the house was rather big. When in my twenties I went back to see it, I felt like I could put my hand on the roof. It must have been a hard time for my parents, but I have good memories.

    • katry Says:

      Bert,
      Little kids don’t see privation as much as they see adventure. I chuckled at you and your brother. We would have done the same thing and been as fascinated.

      Parents hide the difficulties from their kids. They didn’t want us to see how difficult life was-we all learned how hard life can be when we were older which is soon enough.

      I’m the same in thinking my world was huge when I was a kid.


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