Traveling at the Speed of Smell

Life at the Speed of Smell 

(Note: I've been thinking about this topic for a while. This entry was started on 5/4/18 after working the idea in my head for a while longer. I updated the post to get it ready for publication this week.) 

For years, I’ve noticed the special sensations of traveling by foot through my neighborhood (or whatever neighborhood I happen to be around.) The sensation tends to be more evident in the Spring and Fall, though I try to walk outside most days I can year-round. 

I call it “Traveling at the Speed of Smell.” When you live a suburban life like I do, you spend most of your traveling time in an enclosed, climate-controlled, air-freshener-scented (if you’re so inclined) capsule, with little to no connection to the outside world you’re passing over or through, besides the blurry sight of things passing at 65 mph and the potholes and rough patches vibrating up through your feet and seat. Obviously, urban-dwellers get this all the time, and in a more concentrated dose, so the effect may be similar, or it may become one amalgamated olfactory sensation. Likewise, rural folk may or may not receive the variety that suburban life offers. Notwithstanding, this is coming from my experience. 

When you take a walk around  the block, you are suddenly aware of all the detailed visual stimuli, as well as the sounds (more on that another time) and especially smells of the neighborhood. 

These blog entries will focus on the senses we forget to use, don’t have time to use, or are blocked from using in our daily lives. It’s about slowing down enough to notice things, freeing oneself from the distractions that eclipse our senses, and moving through life slow enough, even if for a brief moment, to stop and smell the roses. Or gasoline. Or fertilizer, tar, grass clippings, mulch, flowering trees, and all the things that can’t reach your nose inside your car. Or that you drive past so fast that you can’t collect or process them. 

Here are a few more examples in detail. Each may become the subject of a future post. 

  • The Smell of Fresh cut grass- sometimes mixed with gasoline and exhaust from a lawn mower 
  • The differing smells from cars and other vehicles: the “rotten-eggs smell of catalytic converters, diesel trucks or cars, antique cars with what I call the “unleaded gas” smell, lawn mowers and yard tools, scooters or motorcycles 
  • The fresh, wet, hot smell of landscaping mulch 
  • The scent of someone grilling 
  • Flowers, Flowering trees, Flowering shrubs 
  • The Cologne of someone running by

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