Monday, August 24, 2009

No Scents Whatsoever

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

(Before you jump to any conclusions, check that spelling. I will occasionally own up to having very little sense; but, this time, I am talking about scents.)

We all miss out on things in life. The notion of “having it all” was always an empty promise and a cruel tease. Instead, life is about making choices. Letting go of one thing to hold on to another. Taking one road, but missing out on the other. Foregoing one pleasure for the sake of different one.

One of the things missing from my life had nothing to do with choices. I have no sense of smell and, since I never did, I can’t rely on memory to bring back lost pleasures. At first, it seemed only slightly odd to me as a child that others talked about perfumes while it seemed to me that the only flowers with any scent was maybe gardenias. My mother had a treasured gardenia bush that my father had planted as an anniversary gift and my mother couldn’t have been happier had it been a fur coat. (Well, that’s weak. We lived in central Texas and a fur coat would have been useful for only about two months out of the year. And, yes, I know fur coats are politically incorrect; but, I was born and raised before, and therefore remain somewhat blissfully immune to, pc thinking.)

At any rate, thanks to that bush, I found that if it put my nose down inside—nearly through—a gardenia, I could detect an aroma and, because there weren’t many aromas in my world, it was a pleasant sensation. The only other scent I recall was that of fresh leather when my brand new saddle arrived from Sears and Roebuck, no less.

Gradually, I discovered that everyone detected thousands of these smells that I was missing out on. But, since there wasn’t much I could do about it, I suppose I simply concentrated on the joys of my other senses. Over the past few days, I have thought about these things as I cut bunches of lavender from the small lavender field in front of the house. Everyone tells me that the smell is sweet and fresh and maybe I get just a vague hint of something in the air—something that tickles my nose. Or, perhaps there is nothing more than the power of suggestion.

I do know that I enjoy the pale, purple color along with the whorls of the tiny blossoms marching up the spike. When I am cutting, I have a fine time out there with the bees. Later, I take great pleasure in scattering the tied bunches around the house. The plants are a joy to see, as well as photograph; and, even if my nose can’t detect the subtleties, the power of suggestion is strong. My imagination tells me that the house is sweeter for their fragrance, and that’s almost as good as the real thing.


  1. Anita, Wow, I've learned something new about you today. ~smile~ Have you found your lack of a sense of smell has affected your ability to taste things? I've seen that reported and was wondering if you've noticed it.

  2. Wow, Anita! It is far beyond me to imagine what life would be without smell. In a way, I have sort of the opposite problem, my nose is sometimes hypersensitive and I can smell things that many people cannot. This gives me issues with certain perfumes and lotions. If I get close to them, I start sneezing. :-) My wife has had to stop wearing some lotions because when I come into the house, sometimes I'd have to turn around and go back out because it is so overpowering.

    However, since you've never had it, I guess that you have never missed it. Well, be thankful that you have the other sense, especially sight that way you can enjoy all of those wonderful things outside of your windows!

  3. Oh, that's both sad and good. You wouldn't believe how much there is you don't want to smell, in fact most. You're lucky to be able to scent, even if ever so little, two of the most wonderful scents on earth, like gardenia or leather. Sad that you cannot experience cooking and the scents that comes from it, not to mention how much easier it is to notice if things gets burnt...

  4. Forgott to say, I believe your lack of feeling scents have made your eyes much more seeing. It's like a blind man developing great senses in his fingertips and hearing. You got great vision.

  5. Anita, You had mentioned this in a previous comment you made regarding my question of all the wonderful aromas you must have encountered during the time you were getting pictures for you book early this summer. The thing I didn't catch was the extent of your lack of smell. In my book, if you could smell just one or two things only, a flower and new finished leather would rank right up there. You are in an area the seems to have sagebrush and if you make it point to wander through it after a rain just to see if you can get a wee whiff of that scent I am sure you will enjoy it.
    I will check back on this post as I am curious about the question Paul raised of how it affects your taste.
    My best,

  6. I've always wondered, if given the choice of having to lose a scent, which would I choose? My smell would not be the first choice! I appreciate your acceptance of this, and your essay is touching and beautifully written. Smell is a sense I rely on to retrieve fond memory of childhood--it is a trigger for moments I suspect I would otherwise not remember.
    As for your love of bees, it is funny you mention this, as I am contemplating raising a few hives in the next year's warmer weather and am just finishing up one of Susan Hubbell's books, 'A Book of Bees'. I've fallen for them over the course of reading this and another of her your photo sparked a smile, as always. Thanks Anita!

  7. Earl - I'm sure my lack of smell does affect sense of taste. It certainly doesn't prevent my enjoyment of food, but I am confident that I miss subtleties easily detect by others .

  8. Paul - Well, I really got the bad end of the bargain because while I can't smell things that doesn't keep me from having allergic reactions. What is tricky is that I can be in real trouble before I have a clue what is going on. There have been occasions when my husband has asked if I didn't think we should escape the paint fumes in a location, and I would answer, "Oh, that's why I have this headache and the asthma is kicking in. Hmmm."

    It's true that missing a sense has increased my gratitude for the others I can enjoy.

  9. Ove - You wouldn't believe how many pots and pans I have burned up. And, sometimes I am grateful that I am not tortured by what must be the tantalizing aromas from foods that I can no longer eat. Plus, I am never offended by odors that spoil someone else's enjoyment of an event. I suppose it proves that one can always find a silver lining.

    Thank you for your kind comment about vision. Your generosity is a beautiful thing.

  10. Steve - That's a great tip about the sagebrush. I had no idea that this was yet another treat I had never experienced. When we get some rain this fall (soon, please) I will have to test this out, and see if I can get just a tiny whiff.

  11. Mary Ann - Only because of my imagination and my trust in the reports of others, I understand the deep connnection of smells to memories and how they would be an effective trigger.

    I am not considering raising bees, but I have found myself somewhat surprisingly comfortable as they buzzed around me. I did think that they became a tad annoyed by my removal of portions of their food source. Still, no one attacked and we ended up getting along just fine.

  12. Anita: I really like bees a lot. I'm not a fan of wasps, at all, but bees are way up there on the insect list along with the Praying Mantis, my favorite!

    I love to watch honeybees go about their work of gathering pollen and will frequently let them land on me, if they choose to ... honestly, though, it still makes me a tad bit nervous, but I've never been stung in that instance. Go figure.

    I've been near a commercial beehive. Now that is an uneasy feeling as there are so many bees and my imagination tends to run wild at such times. LOL!


You can leave your comments here. Because all comments are held pending review, yours will not immediately appear on the site. I eagerly read all of them and sincerely appreciate your taking the time to record your impressions and views. Thanks for visiting.