Can somebody tell me why it smells like boiled linseed oil in here?

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To answer the question in the title, it’s the sack of grain sitting behind me (don’t ask).

Today I went on a 30 minute jog around the neighborhood as part of a challenge from a friend and colleague in my small effort to help raise awareness and research funding for usher syndrome. For a variety of reasons this week is proving to be a rather emotional one. It has put me in a dour and philosophical mood. Every little thing along my way seemed somehow more acute. Every bit of sensory input was interesting. Perhaps it has to do with the icy dry air descending upon our little valley, and maybe it’s just me thinking too hard, I dunno. It started with sound and sight – something of a tie-in to the challenge itself. Usher syndrome is, after all, the most common cause of combined deafness and blindness, and yet so few have ever heard of it. Early detection is essential which is one of the reasons this challenge is so important – how do you detect something you may never have heard of?

Anyhow, to get on with it: The leaves here are starting to get a bit ‘crispy’ and as the sun drops low on the horizon blasting vibrant golden beams of light through the thin canopy of trees, these little birds, dunno what they are, rustle around sounding thoroughly like tiny elephants. And you know what? Aside from a bit of road noise, from the main road that’s it for sound. We don’t have cicadas or crickets. The few frogs we do have are typically quiet, and the birds, well they’ve mostly said their piece for the year. When you’re running, it’s your shoes, your breath and the wind.

It seems like the quiet would make for a peaceful and relaxing jog, but not so much. It’s too cold. The air just doesn’t seem to hold the sun’s heat this time of year. As soon as I hit the end of the drive, the cold started gnawing. Even with the last gasp of direct sunlight and my own heat of activity, the bite just got worse with every drop of sweat.

About half-way through my run, I was staring down the road into a thick fog of wood-smoke. Not the sweet well measured smoke you get from a fish smoker, but the thick nasty smoke from a poorly kept wood stove with low-quality wet wood. It got me thinking though about how things smell in the fall. When the air gets cold like that, sound travels well and so does smell. I got through the smoke and inhaled as much of the fresh clean air as I could. With that clean air came the sweet, pungent smells of fall, but there was more. Some houses I passed were dark and silent, but others were wrapping up their day. Some people were clearly taking their evening showers. I could smell the shampoo being pulled into the evening air by ventilators. One house was running their dryer and the perfume of dryer sheets hung out in the street too.

To bring this around to writing, smell is one I always forget about. It’s so close to taste that I think I just forget about it. The funny thing is that smell is really linked to memory and emotion in a way that sometimes other senses aren’t. It’s just like the sack of grain sitting behind me that reminded me of boiled linseed oil, which makes me feel like being in the wood shop. Once you get to the linseed oil part, you’re nearly done, but not quite, it’s like the last leg of a marathon.

Anyhow, that was an odd rambling post. But I posted it so there you have it.

Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I took a bit of artistic license with this – I started writing this post yesterday. It wasn’t quite as clear today, but I ran the same both days

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2 thoughts on “Can somebody tell me why it smells like boiled linseed oil in here?

  1. efrussel says:

    I’ve got a problem with scent in my writing: it stinks. 😛

    No, seriously–I always wind up describing how people smell, especially people I want the reader to find attractive or compelling. It’s one of the things you notice about a person you’re attracted to, you know? They smell good.

    Liked by 1 person

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