I’m no cuisinier of dog food, but I imagine morning work includes rendering meat scraps because that plant sends forth air that smells like breakfast cooking.
Windows down, slowed to the minimum, I drink in the aroma of sizzling breakfast. It is heavenly.
More so than any other sense, smells can transport us into another time, place, relationship.
Memories sit hiding somewhere in our brains until something activates them.
Old ham radios, as well as the transmitters of broadcast stations, smelled like old dust cooking on hot vacuum tubes with a touch of stale cigarette smoke residue in ceiling tiles. Radio equipment is more sensitive today and doesn’t tolerate coatings of cigarette tar.
There hasn’t been a box of powdered detergent in this house in years, but the smell of Tide detergent nearly gets me back to sheets and shirts flapping from a close line.
Even today, my maternal grandmother’s house carries a familiar faint smell, the smell of her house. The smell comes from the residue of smoke from her ancient wood-burning cook stove and condensed oils and fats from cooking. There was the unmistakable scent of that woman. I can’t describe it beyond calling it the essence of a powdered old woman.
This time of year candles and air fresheners keep homes smelling of things we associate with winter holidays.
The bouquet of evergreens invokes memory of a freshly cut Christmas tree.
Standing among pine trees transports me back into my teen years in south Georgia where many used pine limbs for garland and saplings for Christmas trees.
Fragrance dispensing plug-ins conjure up scents of home holiday baking. Combine vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and you have a bouquet of home cooking, a pie, an apple pie. Realtors know that to make a house smell homey it should be filled with scents of domestic life. A good apple/cinnamon plug-in can cover a lot of dirty socks.
The smell of hot apple juice opens my memory’s front door of a family’s “Open House” in Ailey, Ga., and a cup of “Ailey Ale.”
I don’t know what was in it, and only one man might recall the recipe.
The ingredients that make baby powder smell like what it is is a trade secret, but talc, talcum powder and corn starch smell nothing like a baby. When I get a whiff of its top notes, I think of changing diapers.
There is no mistaking the smell of a barber shop and the scent of the hair gunk and aftershave lotions.
Chicken processing plants, hog farms and feedlots smell like money to some people.
I’ll just leave that where it is.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.