May 24, 2005

The Smell of Summer

Today the quintessential scent of summer greeted me along with the bright sun and soft breeze. Some people label themselves as visual”, meaning they need to see something to truly understand it. Following along these lines, I would have to describe myself as an olfactory” person. Certain scents have the power to immediately transport me to a certain time in my past, or clue me in to the changing of the seasons. I am fascinated by the sense of smell, and if Smell-O-Vision was really an option, I would see all my movies that way (and make fun of how they spelled it…). This does not mean I surround myself with aromatherapy candles and room fresheners— I can’t stand that stuff. I like the natural smells of life. The scent that spells the changing of spring in to summer for me is not the smell of freshly cut grass, as some of you may have been guessing. It is the smell of recently killed skunk on the road. There is a time for a few hours after a skunk unloads it’s scent glands where it does not smell exactly like that nasty smell we all associate with skunks. It smells very musky and a little strangely sweet, and granted it doesn’t smell great, but it doesn’t smell awful. At the end of spring, skunks seem to be more active, maybe scrounging food for their newly born litters, and thus get run over by more cars in the wee hours of the night. I got to thinking about this, and then realized that skunks definitely don’t exist in Australia, and I was pretty sure they weren’t in Western Europe or Britain, either. A quick check into the 800 page Walker’s Mammals of the World” on my bedside table (don’t ask…) confirmed that suspicion. I am having trouble imaging going through life without ever having smelled a skunk. What would take its place in the olfactory palette? And what would take over its contradictory role in nature— an animal that is so silly and lumbering that everyone would love it except for the fact that it stinks? Maybe you Aussies and Brits can clue me in here. I wish they had Internet Smell-O-Vision working so that I could share that smell of summer with you. Of course that would mean that I would be broadcasting the smell of skunk all over the place. Although, I bet I wouldn’t be the first to pull that off if it were possible… What smells signals summer to you?

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