A sense of scent

My favorite job in High School was summers at McIntyre’s Fried Clams. It was hot, greasy and the food was divine. We made fried clams, scallops, shrimp, fish, french fries and homemade fried onion rings. Our work uniform was a red & white checked, button down shirt over jeans or shorts (though you risked flying fat burns to exposed skin.) I would peel off that shirt and head straight to the showers after work. The smell of fried food had seeped into every pore.

Most recently, when I managed the oil & vinegar store, Alice met me at the end of the day and snuffled my clothes. Once away from the store, the lingering smell of sweet balsamic vinegar and rich garlic olive oil clung to me. There were the occasional spots of oil that still adorn many of much of my wardrobe, but they are fading.

When I’m to spend a day riding, regardless of the season, the lingering incense of horse hair, manure, sweat and hay are my cologne. Often I don’t notice until I am captive in a line at the grocery store. Other “horse people” will smile and say something like; “Oh lucky you for being at the barn today!”

  • The musty, animal smell of a wet dog, drops flying and leaving tiny wafts on your pant leg.
  • The first scent of pine needles and leaf piles burning that attaches itself to your hair in the Fall.
  • The prickly smell of heat, your crusty feet and soil when you shower off after a day in the garden.
  • A turkey, roasted vegetables and pies cooling on the counter that herald a Thanksgiving meal to be shared.

Days spent in elder care bring their own scents. I catch a slight waft of the powder I use to rub Gunther’s back, the rose soap Elise provides for his bathroom sink, and the faint cooking aromas from the lunch I’ve prepared.  When he is having a bad day, I often carry home the essence of his discomfort. It is part of the job and knowing he is resting comfortably after my care is more than enough to override any lingering odors.

Smells are hitchhikers that sit quietly in the back seat and define the ride…

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10 thoughts on “A sense of scent

  1. On my recent “spur of the moment” road trip, I had been cruising along at a comfortable 80 mph when traffic came to a standstill. Since I’m not a fan of a/c, I reached over and rolled down the passenger window to create a cross-breeze. The wind carried the scent of wild honeysuckle – for the next 20 minutes, I was quite content to sit in traffic!

  2. I remember working at a fish n’ chips place in high school and going home with a little cloud of “fried food smell” over me. As a child, my mom insisted that I came home with a certain smell from school…not sure what that would have been.
    One “mystery smell” I’ve encountered piggybacks on Touring’s encounter. I would drive around a certain neighborhood in Houston and smell a very distinctive sweet smell. Took me years to find someone who could identify it as Sweet Olive tree in bloom.

    • Sweet Olive has always been one of those subtle, wonderful scents, Chris. It was Jeff who identified it for me. The bushes grown in abundance along the highways here and always remind me when spring has sprung! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  3. Wonderful post Martha. Truly. As a teenager I worked at a few greasy food joints (burger and fish), and your intro brought back lots of memories. I still have a scar on my ankle from a half-dollar size grease burn and I still feed my tater tot addiction. And BTW, your last line is pure poetry. ~James

    • I have a surprisingly lot of grass to cut, Marie. Since I don’t own a mower it means outside help but I get the pleasure of smelling the fruits of the labor. Thank you!

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