“Smells, I think, may be the last thing on earth to die.”

I woke up to the sound of rain. It was earlier than usual, but I had a nine o’clock meeting anyway so I got up, started my coffee, ran out for the papers then ran back inside to a house filled with the wonderful aroma of freshly brewing coffee. I filled my cup and took the first sip. I can’t imagine starting any day without my coffee.

While I was at the library board meeting, the rain turned to snow for a few minutes, but at 37˚ it is still just a bit too warm to sustain the snow. I couldn’t be happier as I think it is far too early in the season for snow. On my way home the rain became sleet, giant globs of sleet. Gracie didn’t even want the window open. I was just so happy to get home and inside my warm house. It still smell of coffee.

We all have favorite smells. Some conjure memories of childhood while others bring to mind the people we love and miss. Places where we’ve been are pulled from memories, drawn by a smell. I love the smell of spring, of the earth and flowers and the first mown grass. I can smell rain before it comes. A summer rain cooling the hot pavement has a strange, easily recognized smell. I know when any neighbors have a fire going as the smell of burning wood permeates the air. Last year when the electricity was off for so long my house was filled with the aroma of burning wood, and it stayed for days. The pine smell of the Christmas tree fills the living room then spreads to all of downstairs. Sugar cookies baking always remind me of my mother. They were a Christmas tradition as was the decorating and eating cookies heavy with icing. The smell of turkey cooking in the oven at Thanksgiving draws the cats and the dog to the kitchen. They sit near the stove hoping for a taste. I never disappoint them.

I think that winter gives us a gift starting at Thanksgiving and lasting until the tree comes down in January. It is the season of smells mixed with memories.

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11 Comments on ““Smells, I think, may be the last thing on earth to die.””

  1. splendid Says:

    This is my favorite piece you have ever written. Word by word you drew me in to my own memories and pleasures. I have always thought that no matter what we lose to sight or hearing, the smells of our lives last forever. Thank you Kat for this wonderful walk down memory lane this morn.

    • katry Says:

      Thank you, splendid, and you are welcome.

      I once went to Plimouth Plantation and as I walked down the dirt road to the houses I was transported to Ghana. In my memories, it was morning and the compounds around my house were cooking. They used wood charcoal, still do, and that’s what I smelled at Plimouth.

      I’ll type the squash recipe here later for you. Please check back.

    • katry Says:

      splendid,
      Here is the recipe:

      Squash and Carrot Casserole

      2 dozen Rit crackers
      8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese softened
      2 cans of cream of chicken soup undiluted
      2 beaten eggs
      1/2 cup melted butter
      2 1/2 lbs of cooked buttering squash
      6 small grated carrots
      1/2 cup chopped onion
      1 cup herb stuffing mix

      1. Place crackers in greased baking dish
      2. In bowl combine eggs, cream cheese, and soup. Beat well.
      3. Stir in squash, carrots, onions-spread in baking dish.
      4. Put stuffing mix on top.
      5. Bake at 350˚ for 30-49 minutes.

  2. olof1 Says:

    Yes smells can bring back wonderful memories. I always think of my best friends family when ever I make a special kind of tea, I can see how his mother goes out into the kitchen and brings back tea and sandwiches with cheese and paprika on them. We often played Canasta so that also shows inmmy mind 🙂

    Sugar cookies make me think of my neighbors where I lived previous and the lady always made a big jar just for me 🙂 There’s one smell, and I think it’s oil realted, that always bring back memories from when I was a kid fishing down in the harbor 🙂

    They had predicted rain but I don’t think we got any and it’s unusually warm too, my kind of weather 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      Smells are absolutely the best memory joggers bringing back stuff you thought were forgotten. That tea always brings back your friend and his mother-wonderful memories.

      I know the oil smell you mean. The harbor used to have it before the clean-up.

      We have snow. It started falling a few hours back, but it wasn’t accumulating, just wet stuff. Now, the tree branches are getting covered so the snow is drier. Too early for snow!!

      Have a great evening!

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I started reading your post and immediately my brain started calling up summer smells. Rain on hot asphalt; New mown timothy hay; And my favorite one of all, sun-warmed, dusty, dry wood with a slight hint of paper wasp nest. That was the smell of the attic over the garage where I would often sleep on summer nights.
    Thanks! It was a short but lovely trip away from the dingy, grey, cold up here.

    It snowed this morning. It snowed sideways. It didn’t stick, though. Now it’s just grey and damp and cold. Rocky and I have been out. He was not impressed and neither was I. We’re back inside and snuggled up on the couch.

    Enjoy the rest of the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      What a wonderful way to spend part of this ugly, wintry day-in summer with all the best smells.

      We had that small snow then sleet then nothing until around noon when it started to snow again. It was a damp, heavy snow which got lighter s it fell and it stuck a bit to the branches.

      I had to make Gracie go out when it was snowing and had to play fetch with her down the hall as she was being a bored, pain in the neck, whining at me. Now that the snow has stopped she’s out in the yard barking.

      Have a great evening-stay warm!

  4. Bob Says:

    There is nothing that smells better than fresh brewed coffee especially when waking up in the morning. The smell of a new car is an unmistakeable aroma of pleasure. The smell of pies or cookies coming out of the oven remind me of family and the people from my past.

    Whenever I smell potato pancakes being deep fried I am reminded of my father who loved to make potato pancakes for the holiday. We have no recollection of the smell of an evergreen tree at Chanukah but we do remember the aroma of deep fried food. In the spring and summer the smell of freshly cut grass remind me of playing in my yard as a kid and that the baseball season is coming or is in full swing.

    Everyone has their favorite aroma that invokes their memories. Smell is a very personal sense.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I so agree with you about mornings and coffee, and I forgot all about that new car smell. It is distinctive.

      Cookies also remind me of my family when I was growing up. For Thanksgiving we always had pumpkin, blueberry and lemon meringue pies. I am a lemon fan, and that was my favorite pie.

      Freshly cut grass is spring to me. It doesn’t have the same aroma come the dryness of summer.

      Smell is also the best trigger of memories, more than any other sense.

      • Bob Says:

        My favorite pies are blueberry and apple. I worked for a billionaire who owned a ranch in southwestern Arkansas on the banks of the Arkansas River near Ft. Smith. When we flew him to his ranch for the weekends in the spring we would stop off in the blueberry fields and load up the airplane with flats of fresh picked blueberries for the our employees. I would watch the workers fill the pint containers with fresh picked berries and then load up the airplane and fly them home.

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        I also love blueberry pie and am fond of apple. My dad always ate his apple pie with a hunk of cheddar cheese on top.

        My town owns fields of blueberry bushes and you can go and pick the blueberries for yourself. I did a few years ago, and the pie was extra tasty.

        Nice to have your own plane!


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