Saturday, 22 November 2008
I Smell A Story
When I write about different locations, I must remind myself to include smells as well as sights. We often describe odours in bars, houses, flower shops and on people. The delicate smell of a special perfume or comfort food can trigger memories, but cities and towns also have a their own brand of olfactory uniqueness.
The lovely old city of Saint John, New Brunswick smells like hot road tar mixed with sea salt because of the proximity of the oil refineries along the Bay of Fundy. When I smell tar, I go back to the days when I was a kid, wandering with my cousins in search of mischief. I see in my mind's eye the multicoloured wooden houses with white trim. I remember steep hills leading down to the bay.
Northern Ontario smells like wood smoke and pine needles. It will always remind me of camping and warm rocks.
My husband says Toronto smelled like rising dough when he was a kid, due to the flour and sugar mills along the shores of Lake Ontario.
Then there were the little lumber towns in northern Quebec. We lived in Chandler on the Gaspé Peninsula when I was seven years old. It always seemed to smell like an enormous fart.
From a WIP: "The Chandler pulp and paper mill on the west side of town served up its usual sulphuric stink with extra sauce on the day JC Bernard decided to kidnap his best friend Alphonse."
Newmarket doesn't have many distinctive odours, except perhaps the smell of newly cut grass on a summer day, or lilacs. Each season brings its own memorable smells.
What does your town smell like? Do any smells take you back to a place you once lived?
Image: A view of Saint John from Martello Tower