Sunday, November 09, 2008

Rotten Apples

Our entire neighborhood, and—it seems to me as I ride around—much of Seattle, smells these days like slightly rotten apples.

But this is a good thing, and makes it really feel like fall, which, of course, it is.

The scent is sweet and slightly bitter; it tickles my nose, sort of. And it lingers; even as I sit here in the basement of my house, with the windows all closed up, I can sort of smell it, I think.

Or maybe I just have the memory of the fragrance, and that’s enough.

It is said, I’ve heard, that smell is the most evocative of the senses, like how you can be transported back to some place years and miles away by a familiar scent. I know, for instance, that I can powerfully recall the feeling of being six years old on Friday nights and my parents going out to the symphony while my sister and I stayed home with our aged baby-sitter, Mrs. Ferguson just by the smell of women’s perfume.

Or the kind of soggy sour-milk smell of institutional cafeterias takes me right back to being a miserable high-school student, sitting alone in the lunchroom of Central Catholic high school.

Or, there’s this old coffee smell mixed with burnt toast that evokes, for me, the time when I was living in Los Angeles and working, one December, in a dingy office on Sunset Boulevard above a tired old coffeeshop called, I think, the Contintental, and writing public service announcements for some fly-by-night company whose job, apparently, was to spend a bunch of money at the end of the year for somebody’s tax purposes.

The smell of burning pinon, especially if it’s mixed with a dash of tequila and lime, transports me straight to New Mexico, but perhaps most powerfully, is this mixture of pepper, warm flannel, and brewer’s yeast, that reminds me exactly of how I felt here in Seattle when Mimi was a newborn.


Blogger Deb's Lunch said...

A couple of times I have made slow-cooked eggs for Passover - they cook in coffee grounds and onion skins to dye them, slowly overnight - and the coffee & onion smell reminds me of your house, the first place where I got acquainted with a compost bucket - before I started keeping one of my own.

3:40 PM  

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