Gee that smells (HLD 365)

23 March 2021

Our sense of smell can takes us to some wonderful places, with accompanying wonderful memories.

Or it can take us to nasty places that we really don’t want to remember, let alone revisit.

Some smells are just wonderful, and comforting – freshly mown grass, the first rainfall after a long dry spell, a campfire, freshly baked bread, coffee, a newborn baby, clothes straight off the clothesline, a new packet of crayons, a brand new book – so many wonderful things that we would all probably agree are just lovely.

Then there’s the nasty ones. I still, nearly twenty years later, remember the smell of a carload of teenage boys being ferried back from an indoor soccer game. From memory it was raining, and I was unable to wind the windows down. I’m continuing with the therapy, and by the time I’m 80, I hope I’ll be able to stop gagging each time the memory pops up.

There’s a whole bunch of teenage male smells that qualify in the nasty category, and, despite being at risk of being labelled sexist, male smells in general.

Body related smells aside (way, way, way aside please!), they aren’t the only thing that cause you to hold your breath and move in the opposite direction. Anyone who has spent time in Australia and knows what a dead kangaroo by the side of the road smells like, will understand why this definitely gets included in the nasty category.

Rotting food is a definite inclusion. A bag full of nappies is a no-brainer inclusion also. A school bag clean up at the end of term, where rotten bananas and gym socks cohabit freely, definitely requires a medal.

Some smells are good for some people and nasty for others, like petrol, and blue cheese. Even the smell of a bushfire can be invigorating for some, but heartbreaking and nasty for others.

The reason for today’s aromatic meandering? I walked into an old church last week. And by old, I’m speaking in the Australian context, where anything around 100 years old qualifies. Not in the European context, like in Delft in the Netherlands, where the New Church has been coexisting with the old(er) church since 1496.

So – this place I visited is 108 years old, and is a timber build – timber walls, and timber ceiling. Jarrah pews, too. When you walk inside, the first thing that hits you in the face, is the smell.

Old wood. It’s just incredible. I could sit there and just breathe in the history of the place.

Are you a timber sniffer too? What else qualifies for you in the wonderful, or the nasty, category?

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