Last week was Sight

Is it odd that writing about this topic results in me feeling extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed? You must be wondering how the heck I could feel this way by talking about the act of smelling. Ha. I feel foolish even admitting it, but in another endeavour to face a hard to share bit of myself I’ll explain this embarrassing feeling I have.

I have a strong sense of smell and it’s often one of the first things I pick up on in any situation. When I was growing up I smelt everything. If I was given a birthday gift, I might smell the packaging before opening and then I’d smell the actual gift. I identified with smell and loved the smell of my mom’s pillow and the clothes she was wearing. I recognised smell so well that if my brother and I had mixed up our similar toys, I always knew exactly which was mine…

Saying all that is scary because I swear I’m normal and you wouldn’t have to worry about me smelling you all over if we were to meet irl. It’s just that when I drive down the road with my husband I’ll smell something foul about 8 minutes before he even gets a whiff of it! 

Anyway, all the time that I was growing up it was a big joke to my family, mainly my mother, how I unwittingly smelt everything. I was often left feeling humiliated and ashamed. I’d try to remember not to smell things if I could help it. 

Even though the jokes continue I’ve tried to turn it around and see my strong sense of smell as an asset. Perhaps not so much of one when pregnant and having aversions to scents but a gift none the less. I should never have felt embarrassed over it. 

So what notable smells were there this week?

  • The smell of lavender after taking the laundry out of the dryer. 
  • That sweet smell known only as “baby smell” that my son still emits everywhere on him even though he’s almost two.
  • The odd nuttiness in the hot chocolate I have almost daily. This hot chocolate is always topped with shaved nutmeg in which at least half the enjoyment is in smelling it as I sip.
  • The smell of rain with a tinge of pollution that usually accompanies the down pour.
  • The smell of healthy sweat my husband comes home smelling like after a whole work shift riding his bike around town.
  • The smell of stale alcohol at the bottle depot.
  • The smell of supper goodness every night this week!

I’m sure I could remember more smells but these are the ones that came to mind. They remind me of who I am, what I love and where I come from.

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13 Responses to Five Senses: Smell

  1. Lindsay says:

    I have a pretty weak sense of smell, but I think Kris could identify with you. I’m not sure his nose is any stronger than normal, but he has poor vision and hearing so I think he uses his sense of smell a lot more than most people might. He tends to smell everything as well. I do tease him about it sometimes but now I feel bad for that! I don’t mean it in any malicious way at all, I actually love that he does it.

    I do love to smell Meredith. For some reason, her baby smell reminds me of shortbread lately.

  2. Annie says:

    I bet Kris doesn’t think twice about your teasing or if he did he’d say something! I’m sure my mother would tell you she didn’t mean it maliciously either but as a small child the intention isn’t something easily understood. What stands out to me is that the teasing continued despite my obvious discomfort and embarrassment. There were issues of control and power over in those long ago years and like other situations this teasing wasn’t endearing or in simple jest.

    Shortbread! I love the smell of shortbread! Makes me want to bake some.

  3. Penelope says:

    I am *exactly* the same way, Annie! Smells can bring back memories of the good and the bad, and I’m always asking if anyone else smells something that I smell, and often the answer is “no.”

    It’s crazy!

  4. Lindsay says:

    I actually asked him and he says it doesn’t bother him at all. I know he would tell me if it did. I can see how your mother’s teasing would make you uncomfortable. My parents were the same way and if we were bothered by sarcasm or teasing we were just told to grow thicker skins.

    Every time I smell Meredith it makes me want to bake! lol

  5. Krista says:

    I’m smelling, right at this moment…. lentil shepherd’s pie and flax millet bread baking in the oven!

    I love aromatherapy mainly because I am particularly moved by my sense of smell. Smells change my mood, triggering happiness and sometimes serious irritability! I love lavender.

    My most loved/hated smells are always tied in with a memory of some sort. Chamomile reminds me of an old friend I haven’t seen for 15 years when we had our first babies together. Bummer it’s $50 for a one ounce bottle… cheaper to call her long distance on the phone!

    I really like talking about this subject.

  6. Sensitive noses… as you know I’m blessed with one too.

    In my situation it’s usually the things that disagree with me that I pick on most easily – like the smell of dust, must, mold, yeast and bacon. My family certainly teased me about it but I think it’s because they couldn’t understand how I could pick up on things they were sure didn’t smell at all. My mom would get so frustrated but a few short years ago she admitted she could no longer stand the taste of sandwich meat that had been sliced with a knife that had just been wiped off after scoring a citrus fruit. I only complained for the 4 or 5 years I ate ham and cheese sandwiches! I guess I’m just sensitive too!

  7. Annie says:

    Penelope! I love that it’s the same for you! I don’t feel so much like a weirdo!

    Lindsay- Thicker skins? Children? :( That’s so sad.

    Krista- Mmmm… I bet your house smells gooood…. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie! Of course you know I love to make the same. I’d love to hear how yours turns out and how you make it different. Is it from your new cookbook?

    I love the smell of your house and I’m a fan of aromatherapy. I’m sensitive to patchouli since it triggered some cluster headaches I’ve had but I still enjoy it in small doses. My favourite smells are eucalyptus, lavender, any citrus, bergamot and sandalwood- although this is too expensive to actually have on hand. I use lavender in my laundry since soap nuts don’t have any scent.

    L- You would hate a new bread book I borrowed from a friend. I opened it up and was overwhelmed with the wonderful smell of yeast. It was so fitting for the book. Maybe not your cup of tea though! It’s not too surprising that you notice those things since they really bother you in other ways! I remember my mom telling me that the stomach aches I got when I was nervous was simply in my head. Not many years later it was clear that they were not only *not* in my head but not the only physical symptom I developed when I got nervous but until it was recognised as real we didn’t take steps to make it better. Once I was believed I was able to get help learning how to relax and deal with the anxiety I faced so often.

  8. lisa says:

    How interesting, how is your sight? I see you wear glasses and just wondered how bad your eyes are….have heard that if you’re weak in one area, you’re stronger in another. Oh, I bet pregnancy was hard for you. My smell sense was so off at that time, every smell made me sick! I couldn’t walk into food stores because of the meat department smell, I still have trouble with Krogers.

  9. Annie says:

    My eyesight is bad in one eye and not so much in the other but I wear progressive lens already! I hate wearing glasses. So did my husband and he had laser eye surgery but I’m much too squeamish to have that done, even though he has better than perfect vision now.

    I was sick literally every day of my pregnancy with Leif. I’ll never forget waking up the morning I had Leif (he was born about 3-4 hours before) and saying to my dh “I feel fantastic! I don’t think I’m going to throw up today!”

  10. Krista says:

    A little visual aid to help along with exploring this topic…

    In this photo, Annie and I were just talking about how sea shells can be really stinky if you accidentally take one home and there’s actually something still living in it….


  11. Annie says:

    I love that picture! I think that’s what I looked like in my last pregnancy. Ha!

    That was a really fun day. I’m scrubbing shells and leaving them out for the sun to maybe get warm enough to finish the job. I wish my camera hadn’t run out of batteries.

  12. Lucy Dolan says:

    How interesting. I have an acute sense of smell too. I also had sickness every day of both of my pregs. I sometimes think I navigate life by a smell map and like you I can smell things miles before my dp. My father is a whisky professional and is good at nosing flavours. He says women are often the best nosers – pregnant women would be the very best I think!

  13. i think you should love your sense of smell.. i hate how families pick something to tease about. with my family it is my sense of direction, even though i have driven cross country to colorado, to niagra falls, canada all by myself with a map!!! also my driving, even though i have never been in an accident and drove 5000 gal tankers in the military~ noooo none of that is considered and it boils me!!!

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