Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oooh, that smell. Can't you smell that smell?

My brother and I were chatting about the smell of freshly cut grass combined with lemons. It’s a scent we both remember from our childhoods, growing up in Southern California in a house built in a former lemon orchard. Lemons would drop before we could use them all, and eventually be mowed along with the grass, sending up the amazingly pungent scent of lemons and freshly cut grass.*

Smells are such a strong memory trigger. Other scents I remember from my childhood…
-butterscotch in the brush in the hills at the end of our street
-eucalyptus trees
-hose water on hot cement
-orange blossoms
-chicken manure used on the strawberry fields
-grandpa’s morton building: farming equipment, dirt, machines
-cinnamon and cloves mom would boil on the stove, making the house smell good during the holidays
-tangerine juice on skin, left on for hours while we played
-smoke and fire during the Santa Ana winds
-Pine Sol and Windex
-Play doh (and later homemade mint scented play-doh)
-paste (the stuff in the middle of the table, with tongue depresser sticks: didn’t that stuff smell like peppermint?)
-night blooming jasmine
-pungent lantana blooms
-the ocean

That was a nice escape. What smells do you remember?

*When mowing over a lemon, stand clear of the side shooter because you could get pelted with a partially ground up lemon. It hurts.


ToadyJoe said...

PAAAAASTE! It smells of WINTERGREEN. It does not, however, taste good. At all. Thanks for the scent memory!

Rozanne said...

I love that post-thunderstorm smell--a rather pleasant byproduct of oppressive Midwestern summers. I think it's actually the smell of nitrogen ions in the air!

I miss it!

Syd said...

What a great post, you old bat. (happy belated b'day, btw)

For some reason, I'm reminded of childhood when I smell the steam from an impromptu Mississippi summer rain.

I realize this is not exactly on-topic, but... you know how I am. A few years ago, I pitched a little fit and attacked my herb garden with a weed eater. Mowed the whole fucker down. My sister stopped by about an hour later and said that my whole farm smelled like a giant pizza. hehe

Ok, that has NO relevance, but there ya go.

rodger said...

Mowing over tennis balls gives the same effect without the smell. If it did give off a scent it would be dog saliva which is a scent I'd rather not think about.

I remember overripe loquats and the slightly bitter scent of walnut skins to name a few.

I really loved the smell of rain on hot pavement...similar to the hose water but muskier.

This could go on and on...thanks for the memories!

Anonymous said...

For some reason eucalyptus smells like cat pee to me. It was HUGE where I born (Hayward, CA) and I still gag a little when I smell it today.

Granted I have five cats but they don't bother me like eucalyptus does ;-)

My list of memory smells would be way too long to bore you with. So I just chose this one. Don't ask me why. Heh.

WenWhit said...

Good God, Lelo... the post was fabulous, but the comments have rendered me speechless LOL

Thanks... to you AND your readers

bemused said...

Great post!

Love the post-thunderstorm smell, too (also love thunderstoms).

Another midwest smell is the it's-going-to-snow-soon smell.

And we can't forget fresh country air. You know what I mean. The pungent aroma of fertilizer in the making. hehehe It always reminds me of trips to my grandparents' farm in Wisconsin.

Hey, lelo, my grandma's maiden name is Morton. I found one arm of my family tree (from that side) living in S. Cal. How weird would it be if we were related?