“Each day has a color, a smell.”

Yesterday was summer with all its heat and humidity. We were cooler than most places, but that didn’t matter. I still took refuge in the house and the air-conditioning. This morning is cool and today will be hot but not like yesterday. I can already feel the difference in the humidity. The windows are open and the half-deflated Happy Birthday balloon from last month’s festivities is slightly swaying in the  breeze. Gracie is taking advantage of the open door and staying outside.

On the back of the door going down the cellar is my spice rack. When I open the door, I am assailed with the best smells, smells which give me pause. Curry seems to be the strongest, but there is also another smell, a combination of all the herbs and spices in the rack, a smell which makes me think of Marrakech and the spice market.

Years ago I went to Santa Fe, once with my sisters then again with my mother. I saw chimineas on that first trip and especially loved the clay ones with the primitive designs. My mother surprised me the next Christmas as she had bought me one. That was before anyone knew what they were, before they became a backyard standard. I use to sit on the deck and burn the piñon wood I had bought on-line. It had the sweetest smell.

My garden has a variety of herbs. Window boxes sit on the deck rail, and I have also herbs growing in each of them. Rosemary fills one box. I love rubbing my hand up the stalk of rosemary then smelling the herb on my hand. When I cook with the rosemary, the kitchen fills with its scent.

The smell of a summer rain has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. The smell of the rain comes before the storm, but once the rain begins, the smell is of wet earth and wet pavement. They have a singular smell, not sweet, maybe even a bit pungent, but they give the summer storm a bit of character, a depth the winter rainstorm never has.


I have my favorite Ghanaian smells-wood charcoal burning being the best one of all.

Fall is coming quickly and it will usher in the smells of the seasons, of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those smells conjure memories of childhood and of my mother’s kitchen. They are really the best of any smells.

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

  1. Bob Says:

    Scientist tells us that our sense of smell evokes memories more strongly than any of our other senses. It must be a trait that is left over from primitive mankind. Our ancestors required a keen sense of smell for hunting and gathering. Come to think of it that still comes in handy in the grocery store and in the food court at the mall 🙂

    I haven’t lived in a house with a cellar for many years but I remember that musty odor that arose from the dark depths when I opened the cellar door. Placing your spices at that location is a great way to overcome that musty smell. Here in Texas houses don’t have cellars because our clay soil would crack the cellar walls which would effect the structural integrity of the house. We all live on concrete slabs which eventually crack keeping the foundation repair industry going strong.

    Between the start of the football season and the high temperatures only reaching the upper 90s means that Halloween can’t be far away. Yesterday there were a few isolated thunderstorms around the area but we only got a quick light sprinkle.

    • katry Says:

      It’s so true. Smells for me trigger all sorts of memories, most pleasant but a few unpleasant. I think Christmas and the tree and cookies baking are my favorite scents for bringing back memories.

      I don’t have that musty odor as my cellar is above ground at one end and had 4 regular size windows which I open on dry days; also, the central air helps in keeping the cellar odor free. Around here most people use dehumidifiers all summer long in the cellars.

      We had two hot days but it is supposed to cool down by Saturday.

  2. olof1 Says:

    No season is so full of smells like autumn, the smell of decaying leafs and mushrooms is my favorite. Herbs and I have never been the best of friends, when it comes to growing them that is. I love the small of curry and that’s probably what I can feel best when I move around my spices. But cinnaomon and cardamom is two strong runner ups.
    I always use rosemary when baking bread, only when I’m out of it I use other herbs, like oregano or basil

    Unusually warm here again but the mornings are raw and nasty cold now. But it is kind of nice to take a walk with my dogs before I drive to work but I really need to start wearing my winter jacket now, we are dangerously close to 32F when we go out 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      I have an herb garden where I grow things like chives, basil, lemon verbena and more basil as I also grow it on the deck. I am lucky with my herbs.

      I love the smell of cinnamon as well. I but rosemary bread at the bakery. It is delicious!

      You had summer days just a few days ago and now it’s winter. I’d go crazy with such a shift in weather.

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I need to put my spices somewhere other than in a tray on top of an unused burner on the stove. Handy, yes, but not particularly good for shelf life. 🙂

    It’s interesting how rain in each season has it’s own particular smell. Spring rain smells of rich wet earth. Summer rain smells of hot asphalt. Fall rain smells of decaying leaves. Winter rain has a metallic and icy smell.

    It’s hot and muggy up here today. It was really hot up here yesterday, 98º. Yeow. At least today there is a breeze and some cloud shadow now and then.

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Definitely bad for shelf life. Try one of those inside the cabinet door shelves for spices. I had one until I outgrew it.

      I have always loved spring and summer rain the most. In spring I can almost feel the flowers growing in the rain. I will always recognize the summer smell on the pavement.

      Have a great evening!

  4. sprite Says:

    The smell you’re describing for after the rain has started is called “petrichor.”

    I wrote about this for work, so I’ll just plagiarize myself here:

    The scent, generally perceived to be a pleasant one, is comprised of more than 50 different compounds. It is caused, in part, by the release of oils from dry earth. These oils are exuded by vegetation during dry periods to help slow seed germination and plant growth when water is particularly precious. The oils are adsorbed by the surrounding earth and released again when they come in contact with water.

    The odor is also heavily affected by an organic compound released by microbes in the soil. This geosmin is emitted when cyanobacteria and actinobacteria, found in large quantities in topsoil, die, as well as when the spores they form during dry weather are disrupted, such as by rainfall. The unique scent of geosmin gives certain foods, including beets and catfish, their peculiar flavor.

    • katry Says:

      Of course it would have name, especially one i have never heard before this.

      The scientific explanation is interesting, but I’ll never remember. Words like geosmin, cyanobacteria and actinobacteria are so foreign sounding to me. I appreciate the explanation though!

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