A rose by any other name

To blatantly quote the master himself is always good click-bait, or at least most writers hope so.

But this piece is not about abusing masters, it is about smells.

Sometimes a smell can take you down memory lane with a jerk. Trying to place that smell is like catching a fart with a net. You know it is there… I remember the first time I walked into the food factory where I started working, the delicious smell which came out of the bakery. That sweet toffee, slightly salty caramel baked cheesecake smell. Catching a whiff of anything closely resembling Toffee pecan pie always takes me back to those first days in a white coat and gumboots.

The runaway spoon
Pecan pie – photo courtesy of The runaway spoon.com

A Saturday used to be the day dad cut the grass and do some general gardening. This is South Africa where I was born, not so any more. But the smell of cut grass anywhere in the world will remind me of the sunshine burning down on the grass, the smell of green (I am sure that is what the color green smells like) hanging in the air and then the cherry on top the sound of sprinklers going “tjick-tjick” in the afternoon.

Moms perfume.

Good coffee.

Bacon. 150 chemical compounds, amino acids combining with sugars, turning that golden brown with that fatty goodness when fried, all the hydrocarbons, aldehydes, pyridine & pyrazines (containing all things unhealthy). That smokey meatiness just can’t be beaten for a top 10 in my book.

Cow dung always reminds me of growing up on a farm in the Lowveld. We used to step bare foot into the warm dung, squishing through your toes, going from pile to pile. Growing up was fun. Now I live on a dairy farm and I am sure that they can use all the cow dung here to generate Biogas or something. I won’t be stepping into it any more, it is just yucky now.


I recently asked my mum if she could remember if the street in front of the house where I were born, was being tarred when I was about 2? (This was before our big move to the farm.) Because I can distinctly remember the smell and the warning that we must not walk on it. I know that  you are not supposed to remember from when you were that young, but the sharp sticky smell of tar reminds me of those days. Your brain always try to make it smell better than what it really is and the lingering notes in your nose are not always pleasant, but oh so very distinct.

Keep on smelling the roses, and dung and tar. Give mom a hug and tell her she smells nice.




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