I started thinking today about my nose, my olfactory sensory organ…
What a word that is. Nose. Say it out loud with me. No-ze. It’s a funny little word, isn’t it? Nose. The nose knows. No one knows what the nose knows but the nose knows a lot. It’s been through a lot, too. You can even win by a nose…if you’re a horse. Any horses out there, raise your hoof. No? We’ll go on then.
Noses are high-tech navigational systems. Don’t believe me? I have proof! When we are first born, before we can even see, we actually smell our way to our mother’s bosom for a drink of her life-giving nourishment. As school-age children, our noses can lead us from the yard into the house when cookies will beckon us with lingering fingers of fragrance wafting on the wind, telling us about some delicious delightful delicacy that is baking just for us.
Noses are skilled players in the art of love as well. Don’t laugh…listen instead. As teenagers, different smells attract us, such as pheromones, bringing with their scent a familiarity of a different kind. Sexual appetites can be aroused and then rekindled with only a hint of scent airborne, causing tingles to spread throughout our bodies.
Noses have led us into bakeries before the bakery shop is even within our sight. Noses have led us to discarded corpses, prey previously hidden from our eyes but detected by our investigative noses. Those nosy noses. The unsung hero of the missing runaway.
What can you smell right now? I can smell the rose in the vase beside my bed. I can still smell the breakfast I cooked, even though it was over an hour ago. I can smell the sunshine, tainting the breeze that lifts and flutters through my window, bringing with it faint hints of grass clippings and fallen leaves.
Short though my life is when compared with the world around me, I still feel fairly certain I can say I have smelled quite a lot in my lifetime. I’m trying to remember what smell comes to my mind as the most vivid so that I can paint for you that picture and you can share it with me.
I remember the smell of my newborn babies; there’s really nothing like that new baby smell, is there? Oh, there’s nothing like that new car smell either. My beloved Chevy Impala, ahhh, there’s a good memory, brought to me by my nose.
I remember the smell of the goats my godparents had, that rich animal smell that no one really likes but which is unmistakable and leaves an impression upon one’s nose. I remember the sweaty, grimy smell of the first man who forced himself upon me, mingling with the smell of my own fear and terror. Boy, I wish my nose had forgotten that smell but, no, it is quite a long memory my nose has. I remember the smell of barbecue ribs, sizzling in the summer sun, summoning the neighbors to the backyard during those evenings spent with my grandmother and a cherished aunt and, with that memory came memories of fishing in their pond, and the smell of the earthworms we dug up with our fingers from beside the soft bank.
I remember the musky smell of the first woman I made love to, or maybe I just remember the smell of every woman in all their sweetness and beauty. Thank you, Nose! I remember the overpowering smell of dozens of bouquets of flowers surrounding a tiny coffin, the richness and headiness of their aromas making me a little dizzy or was it just the moment I was caught in that left me way? Only my nose knows. I remember the smell of the rain upon the earth, the smell of the ocean and its briny contents, and I remember the smell of fresh ink when it’s drying across a crisp white sheet of paper, bringing you and I closer.
Now everyone, all together now, take a good deep smell of your world! Inhale strongly, hold the breath, memorize it, and now exhale. Don’t you feel better? Thank you, Nose.