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

The sky is cloudy so the morning is dark. Already it is 81˚, the high for the day, but, without the sun, it feels cooler. My neighborhood is quiet. It is as if the low clouds have dampened sound and closed in the world.

My little library has patrons. I organize, add or remove books, and I am always pleased to find books added by my readers. A couple of days ago a small bag was hanging from the library door. In it were books so I added them but took one with me to read. I too am a patron.

I never saw flowers growing in Ghana. I never saw them for sale in the market either. I figure they just weren’t a profitable crop. What is grown is sold and eaten.

My language instructor, Lawal, brought us to a market during training. It was under a roof of sorts, and all the tables were manned by women, the entrepreneurs of Ghana. I gawked as I walked in then I stopped. The smell from the tables by me was gross. I ran outside and tossed breakfast. Lawal explained that the small piles on each table where I had been were goat poop, dried and used as fuel. He didn’t understand why dried poop affected me. Poop?

I stopped noticing the gross smells; instead, I could smell the sweetness. In the morning the air was filled with the scent of wood burning. It was breakfast time in the compounds behind my house. The air was redolent. I could smell the dirt when the rain hit it. I could smell the sweetness of the ripe fruits.

I seldom missed market day, poop notwithstanding. It was every third day. I always thought it was like a fair or a carnival. I’d wander. The sounds and sights and smells were amazing and differed from aisle to aisle depending upon what was being sold. The goat poop was there, but I just walked by it. I never even noticed.

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

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    I’m convinced that the sense of smell can bring back memories even faster and more vivid than sight or sound. Many of my memories are triggered by smell and taste. The aroma of bread baking in the oven reminds me of living near the campus of Southern Methodist University. Across the street from the school was the massive bakery of the, “Mrs. Baird’s Bread” company. Daily they baked their grocery store white bread which filled the neighborhood with the aroma of freshly baked bread. Although the plant is no longer located across the street from the University, I can still smell the aroma of the bread in my mind whenever I’m in the neighborhood.

    We here in the U.S. or in Europe, can’t imagine using dung as fuel to heat our food. Or, even going into a market and have people selling the stuff near the food. We have a large farmer’s market in downtown Dallas and all the produce is very clean and very fresh. Sometimes we don’t know how good we have it here. Too bad there are forces, like Trump and his followers, who would destroy our democracy in their drive to turn back the clock of freedom to the dark days of the 1950s. The Congressional hearings about January 6th. are displaying for the world to see how fragile is our system. We could easily have been turned into a banana republic. Unfortunately, the three Trump’s appointments to the supreme court may do it without anyone firing a shot.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      You are correct. Studies have determined that familiar smells can transport you back to where the memory of that scent began. Freshly baked bread also triggers a memory for me, a memory from a bakery up-town called Hank’s. Bread baking seems to be one of the most frequent aromas remember by anyone who has smelled it once.

      I don’t know if the goat poop use is connected to economics. It seems as if could be. Wood is the most common for cooking then charcoal, wood charcoal.

      I agree that people here have no idea how good they have it here.


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