I discovered years ago how powerful my sense of scent is. Not like I have a bionic, drug-dog-sniffing nose, but how much scents impact me. I learned in college the smell of a burger can make a girl drool if she’s survived on Ramen Noodles for three months. A physical reaction to smell. I was all psych major-Julie and impressed with this new realization. Once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop noticing it. Now it’s my thing. For years I’ve entertained myself by taking mental notes of my reaction to smells – not bad ones. Gross. Good ones. Happy ones. Fun ones!
Scent for me is like hearing a song that instantly transports me to another time. A ninth grade dance. Spring break in Cancun. A first kiss. Wedding vows. Seeing my toddlers dance….*inhales deeply* Ahhhhhh….
I burn candles all year around because they make me happy. I always pick the ones that smell like something baking because they make me calm. Smelling apple pie or salted caramel makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a warm blanket and everything is going to be okay. My mom baked a lot. I assume this is why. I can’t be certain, but I keep them going all the time because I love it.
I try to incorporate scents into writing as often as possible for this reason. Scents take us into a scene. I find myself looking for stories where I can add scent in a way that increases the story’s impact. I love the smell of new pencils, but not everyone relates to that, so I angle for those things that resonate widely. Barbecues. Fireworks. Wildflowers. Donuts!
This weekend my husband and I took our three kids to the county fair. Before we parked the car, I could smell it. It smelled like childhood and happiness. Associations I made with funnel cakes and vinegar fries over the course of decades exploded in my mind. My kids were mesmerized. The lights and music and spinning rides, laughing families, hundreds of animals, game guys taunting them to come try to win. The whole spectacle is a touch overwhelming, but the scents keep you rooted. How can anything be bad when it smells like an funnel cake? My preschooler marveled over a corndog on a stick for half an hour. I only buy the minis at home. It was on a STICK! LOL My 6 & 9 year olds devoured my elephant ear right off the flimsy paper plate before I could finish smelling it. We drank vats of fresh squeezed lemonade and watched 4Hers race horses and show pigs.
I decided again I’m blessed and lucky, and given the opportunity to move anywhere in the world, I’d stay right here. Rural Ohio is wonderful, safe, cozy, real. Added bonus: I love what it smells like