The sense of smell is one of the most powerful memory evokers humans possess. Authors are taught to bring that sense of smell into their writing to ground the reader in the setting. If you say your heroine crouched by a bush, the reader forms a picture...but if you say your heroine crouched beside a lilac, that is an altogether different experience. Can't you smell the fragrant, almost too-powerful perfume?
My family jokes that I have a bionic nose. I'm very sensitive to smell. Thankfully, though I have a overactive smeller, I'm not allergic to perfumes, scented candles, or air fresheners.
This week's Friday Five is a two-fer. Five smells I love, and five smells I detest.
1. I love the smell of a wheat field just before harvest. When the sun beats down on the grain, it smells like bread baking.
2. Warm cinnamon. Whether in cinnamon rolls or wassail, I love that fragrance.
3. Old Spice Cologne. Call me old fashioned, but of all the male scents out there, this familiar standby is my favorite.
4. Pipe smoke. This is an odd one, because cigarette smoke makes me gag, but when I was a small child, my father smoked a pipe. He used to let us smell his tobacco pouch, a mix of smoke, cut grass smell, and molassas. I recently got to smell tobacco at Forestville General Store, a site operated by the MN Historical Society. It took me right back to my preschool days and climbing on my dad's lap to smell his tobacco pouch.
5. Sheets fresh from the dryer that have been softened with Downy. I love to climb into a freshly made bed, with clean jammies on, right after a bath. Ah...bliss.
Now, five smells that I can't stand.
1. Mildew. I am SUPER sensitive to the smell of mildew, particularly in fabric.
2. Raw meat, even when it is fresh. Going to the meat counter at the grocery store is a gasp-hold your breath-grab what you need and get out of there-experience.
3. Schoenfelter's. About three miles south of where we live there is a cattle yard. When the wind is from the right direction, well....ew.
4. Boiled Turnips. The smell is indescribable.
5. Fritos Chips. When I was a school teacher, I had a jr. high homeroom one year. The boys all played basketball in the gym before school and would arrive in my classroom as the bell rang, dripping with sweat, panting, and totally unfocused on school. And they smelled...like Fritos. In the dead of a MN winter, I'd be the only teacher with the windows flung open to the bitter--but FRESH--air.
What about you? Any smells you like, any you can't stand? Any ways you can think of to help a writer incorporate the sense of smell into her writing?