Friday, October 16, 2015
Breathing In by K.K. Weil
Even though I wish the weather could be 80 degrees and sunny every single day, there are certain things about fall that make me warm and fuzzy like no other time of year. For me, this season is all about the scents. Sure, I love the mandatory autumn events, like apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides and corn mazes. But after you pick that fruit, what do you do? Come home and bake, of course. And that’s where the smells begin.
So there's the basic, delicious apple pie aroma wafting through the house, and even the roasting of pumpkin seeds. As soon as my kids get wind of those seeds they circle my kitchen like mini-vultures. But that’s just the start of it.
In the fall, I bust out two items that have been put away for the summer. The first things I dust off are my candles. I absolutely love to have candles burning in the house, but for whatever reason, I never think to light them in the warm weather. As soon as the temperature begins to drop, though, out they come. Earthy vanillas and cinnamons are my favorites. When the windows are open and a breeze drifts through, I’m in my happy place.
The second is my slow-cooker. I never owned a slow-cooker until a few years ago, but as soon as I did, it quickly claimed its spot on my counter for the better part of the fall and winter. It’s not even that I love the food prepared in it so much. Some of the meals are very tasty, but it’s more the fact that I throw everything in it in the morning, and then for the rest of the day, the flavors dance around the house. The cooker I have gets plugged in, so I can leave with it on. There’s nothing like coming home from being out for a few hours and smelling that when I walk through the door.
Even the air is different in the fall. It’s evening right now, and I’m sitting by my open sliding doors. (It doesn’t hurt that we’ve also had the most beautiful fall weather in years.) A breeze just came in and I commented about how good it smelled. My husband immediately knew what I meant. No one was barbecuing outside. No one’s fireplace was on. It was just the clean, crisp autumn air.
I think for me, scent is the sense that evokes the most memories. Sometimes, when I’m walking down the street, I’ll stop mid-step because I get a hint of someone’s perfume or shampoo, and I have to take a second to reflect. I might forget someone’s voice over time, and maybe I’ll even lose some of her more subtle facial features. But if I pick up a person’s distinctive scent, it doesn’t matter how much time has passed since I’ve seen her, I’ll think of her. Even smells that wouldn’t necessarily be considered pleasant, like roads being paved or paint drying, bring me back to fond memories.
Interestingly, it’s also the sense that I most readily overlook when I’m writing. Sight and sounds are easy. They come naturally. But I find I really have to concentrate on adding in scents when I’m revising my work. I’m not sure why, because they’re so powerful in my everyday life. And as a reader, I’m easily drawn into a setting where smells are described. So from now on, every so often as I write, I’m going to remind myself to close my eyes, breathe in and just imagine.