Saturday, 16 February 2013

My Favourite Smell

Following on from the Blog Roulette (it finished last week, if you blinked and missed it) and with many thanks to LM Cooke for her suggestions, I present 'My Favourite Smell'.

If I were to think about my favourite smell, then I would have to pause. Smell is one of the strongest senses we have, and it's works on a primal, unthinking level. There's rarely a chance to reason why we like or dislike a scent, it works on instinct. There's no rhyme or reason for my dislike of the smell of fish for instance, it's just something that makes me want to gag and I avoid it where possible (much to the dismay of my pets, who think fish is one of the best things since sliced bread, figuratively speaking at least). There are actually a large number of smells I don't like, beer being one of them, though that could be extended to alcohol in general most of the time. In fairness my dislike of the smell stems from encountering drunk people, most of whom have composed large amounts of beer, so there may be cause and effect going on there. This being said, I'd imagine that most of us can at least tolerate the smells we find in the world, or we'd never leave the house. If we did, then the image in my mind's eye is that of a procession of people sweltering under gas masks, filtering the air into scentless stuff, functional but dull.

Smell is actually a pretty complicated thing for something we rarely think about. Perfumes and aftershaves are specifically targeted, I recall seeing something that said that a lot of perfume development is gendered. Men and women respond favourably to different scents (if I remember right men like floral scents more, women prefer woody smells - I'm not sure if culture and society, that great trap that grips us from the moment we're conceived, can affect the world of smell and how we perceive it. Smell may be the only thing free of it's grip).

My favourite smell isn't a perfume though, so I suspect I've dodged past that one and into new territory. I can think of a lot of smells I do like, some of which I'm not going to share, as I know a friend's young son was reading my blog fiction over her shoulder the other day and I don't want to cause problems. I imagine you can work out what sort of smell I'm talking about though.

I was going to say that it's my cat, Hobbes (he of the shoulder riding and the violent tendencies), there's something about the scent of his fur and even his dirty feet that's very nice. I like to bury my nose in his coat, and just let his smell wash over me. As I thought about it though, I did a double take; realising that the times I really like his aroma are sunny days when he's been lying in the sun, soaking up its rays. I feel the same way about Dita (she of the demanding voice and shivery tail) when she's been sleeping in the warm as well. Eve's hair has the same sort of smell as well on those days too.

Moving away from what is starting to look like an unfortunate tendency to go around sniffing fur or hair that's exposed to sunshine, I love the smell of baking bread, of cooking, of a warm house and a summer's day, when the air truly carries scent (on cold days I find the opposite, its as if the air is neutered). So, upon reflection it would seem my favourite smell is actually warmth or fire rather than anything more specific.

So apologies if that seems like a cop out, but there you are. My favourite smell.