And Then I Smelled It

When I looked at the picture Anita put up on Monday’s Top Ten post, those glorious Percherons, my mind was filled with smells.  I imagined the smell of the horses (sweaty large animal, hot hair, warm horse breath, dung).  Dust, the parched earth, the field of corn in the background.  The heat gives everything a smell, a top note like an oil-coated metal sheet in a hot oven.

I doubt normal people go through their days thinking these things.

I am willing to bet that almost all of you – almost everyone who reads these words – has gone through days and years thinking not so much about the way things look, at least not first thing, but about the way they smell.  If I said the word forest to you, there might be a picture in your head, but the first words out of your mouth might be about the scent of pines — the pungent needles, the resin, the loamy earth.  Tell me about the last time you went to the florist, I might ask, and you’d tell me enthusiastically about the orchid you’d not realized was chocolate-scented, or the elusive, bitter smell that you traced to a prickly-looking houseplant in the corner, or the disappointing, almost scentless long-stem roses flown in from Colombia.

Take me to a new place, a place of wonders, a three-ring circus of smells.  Take me to an open-air market in an unfamiliar country, surround me with the smell of strange fruit and piles of fish heads and offal and fabric, do you smell the fabric?  Is it the dye that’s scented, or the material itself?  Be careful.  If they see you sniffing the fabric, they look at you funny.  They point out – there – the bats high up in the trees, waiting for sunset.  They are absurdly large, like mid-size terriers hanging upside down, and what do I think?  I wonder what a bat smells like.  Probably nasty, like decay. But I don’t ask.  I don’t want anyone to indulge the strange farang lady’s tastes and go get me a bat.  I had an awkward experience like that after I asked one too many questions about ladyboys.

I can hear the cicadas.  It’s gloomy again, heavy clouds, like perpetual twilight, a strange day.  But I can hear the cicadas and it occurs to me: their sound is acrid, acrid like curled and drying leaves.  It’s in the high 90s again today, and everything is close and overripe, even the lawn smells like it’s rotting, I don’t know why.   My wine glass sweats; the wine is full of ice, the way I like it (even the expensive stuff, it drives people nuts, but hey, it’s the way I like it and I’m in my own home, minding my own business.)   The wine smells like sharp citrus; the Indian cotton throw under me of incense, my skin of Nuit de Tubereuse and smoked frankincense — choya loban –and the arnica gel I put on a bug bite earlier.  I smell damp wood from the porch (the stairs are crumbling, maybe termites?); the wet-basket smell of the wicker sofa in the constant swelter.  There’s a ghost, a gust of something else, the unexpected smell of chlorine, and I realize the twins’ bathing suits are hanging right over there, on the railing.  There’s an empty bowl on the sofa by my hip.   Tomato, onion, garlic, vinegar, tarragon, green pepper … gazpacho.  Sharp and sweet, a smell in my mouth (a taste in my nose?).  If I weren’t so lazy I’d wander back into the kitchen and eat another bowl, or maybe a whole tomato, fresh from our friend’s community plot.  I have this vague idea in my mind that tomatoes consumed in sufficient quantities are poisonous (aren’t they a member of the nightshade family?)   If that’s even a little true, you’d think I’d be dead.  Along with half the population of Italy, so … well, it must not be true at all.

If I were more erudite I could sit around and talk about the way a piece by a particular composer moved me.  I’d like to be that person, she’d be so clever.  You would walk by my house at night and hear that music and think, oh, she’s clever, sensitive type.  But instead it’s me, just me, out here on the screened porch, safe from the mosquitoes, more or less, and I’m keeping cool, reading my way through a whole slew of Scandinavian thrillers.  I’m vicariously touring Sweden, Norway and now Iceland (it’s littered with dead bodies, unfortunately) and loving it.   Kurt Wallender’s maybe not the right fit for me, but Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer mysteries are wonderful, complex, psychological.  These ones in Iceland may be too dark for me, not sure yet.  But I can tell you, the paper of my Iceland thriller?  Jar City smells faintly of glue and benzoin.  If you’re going into the kitchen, perhaps you could bring me a tomato.  And a pinch off the basil plant, it’s over there.  Thanks.

Okay, your turn: paint me a smell-picture from your recent days.  Also: Librarything.  Who knew?   Everyone but me, apparently.  (If you type in a book, or an author, you can get a recommendation for other books, or follow other interesting, endless data chains.)

image: first tomatoes, flickr, some rights reserved

  • Wait, what was that about your skin smelling like Nuit de Tubéreuse and some other frankincense? Because if I could get back to the lab with NdT for some extra-curricular tinkering, that’s what I’d add! It worked out on your skin, I gather?

    • March says:

      It definitely worked out on my skin, although more as an accident than anything else. Choya loban is an oddball smoked/distilled frankincense, so it’s a very smoky mix. I think any number of other incenses might be just as interesting. I’d probably start with the CdGs, or just some plain frankincense essential oil. Also I wonder how it would be with Passage d’Enfer, with that lily note? Possibly too much. Or not.

  • Andrea says:

    This is Bavaria and as sizzling as the days are, with their endless deep blue skies, the nights will be cool and breezy, trees rustling. The country rolls green, interspersed with lakes and the Alps are cut out against the horizon in the morning haze. In the morning, when you return from your morning swim the humidity will have amped up, 3-D-ing the smells of Phlox flowers- lots of them in the shrieking clashing colours of the farm gardens, summer roses, overripe raspberries, freshly cut box trees , ripe golden wheat fields, a whiff of sweaty brown and white cows, idling their days away, our meadows in the sun, hay, sweet water and reeds coolness wafting up from the lake, gravel dust you stir up, dry old wood like the inside of a cat’s paws (dry, dusty, sweet, clean) and hot stucco-plaster as you pass the farm houses. All golden rose and heartbreaking and at once intimate and infinite. I mix my whites with ice cold sparkling water…when the churchbells of the village church up on the hill ring evening mass…
    no cold murders to recommend, I’m sorry. I adored your post!

    • March says:

      This makes me feel like I’m in one of those 3-D movies, only it’s got an extra smell-dimension. Bonus points for sensory detail of church bells in the village. So lovely.

  • Linda says:

    March, I do wildlife rescue, and once had the privilege of transporting a sopping wet bat (some idiot hosed it down out of his eaves and down his stairs, and THEN called us in remorse to save the poor baby). They smell very strong indeed, and somewhere between skunk and civet, leaning toward civet. Of course, probably different species smell different.

    From rescuing animals, I could probably pick some of them out of a lineup by scent alone. Pelicans have a curious ambergris/overripe fruit/fish oil scent. If they’ve been hanging out on a pier, they also smell like tarred wood. Grebes smell like the predators they are: salt water, blood, fish, and — weirdly — feet. Ducks are hot, dusty, and animalic, like the hair of a child who has been playing in the sun on a summer day — underscored by a green freshwater scent. Baby bunnies smell like fresh grass and cashmere (right before my allergies kick in and make me anosmic — they’re the only animal I’m allergic to), whereas baby squirrels smell almost maple-y, like kitten fur or fenugreek seeds. And so on, and so on.

    Do I sniff them when we pick them up? Oh, definitely, if I need to rule out whether or not they are oiled (it actually happens a lot due to natural upwelling — just light tarballs, but they get into it just the same). But my car smells lingeringly of them for days after we give them a ride, so I get to know them rather intimately.

    • Musette says:



      you know…I was just looking at my girl cardinal and wondering what the top of her head smelled like. Of course, I am unlikely to ever find out, as she is ‘mine’ only because she chooses to dine on my front porch table.

      if you ever have to rescue one of them, please let us know what they smell like?

      xo >-)

      • Linda says:

        Alas, we don’t have cardinals in our region. But the little birds I’ve rescued (titmice — who insist on sticking their heads through the slats of our fence and then getting stuck that way, so we have to go lift them out, and goldfinches, and mockingbirds, and such) all seem to smell fairly similar: sun-warmed feathers (not unlike our hair), honeyed pollen, a flash of sap from the trees they perch on, and an oily smell like that of raw sunflower seeds.

    • sweetlife says:

      Yay, Linda!

    • Flora says:

      Linda, I bow to thee!

    • March says:

      Hehehe. I love that someone here can answer the bat-smell question. And that my guess was good, although it’s some sort of bat-slur to think they’d smell bad, right? Now I want to smell a pelican.

      And. Good work. @};-

    • Linda says:

      Thank you, everyone! It’s so much fun.

  • Flora says:

    “If I were more erudite” – LOL, March you are far more so than 90% of the people I know, including myself!

    My current “full immersion” scented experience is my favorite one in the garden – lily season! Every time I go outside I am surrounded by the heavy perfume of the lilies, which drip amazing amounts of sweet nectar, much to the delight of the hummingbirds. Competing with them, the Nicotiana sylvestris comes alive in the evenings with its “Jasmin et Cigaret” aroma, and the trio is complete with the lemony freshness of the daylilies. I hate going indoors! Of course I bring lilies inside too, but they are at their most sublime as they sway in the summer breeze and waft all over the place.

    The only consolation I have when the lilies are done for the year is that they are followed by tomato & basil season. In the Pacific Northwest, tomatoes are generally later than they are where summer is hotter, but when they arrive they are fabulous.

  • minette says:

    gotta run to a news meeting, but i sniff the air like a wolf wherever i am – indoors and out.

    and i no longer feel strange about sniffing everything around me since jean-michel duriez told me he does the same thing!

    love those cicadas rubbing their little legs together!

  • tammy says:

    Can’t begin to attempt any kind of writing worthy of this post, but I wanted to say that I have always wondered what bats smell like!

  • mals86 says:

    A lovely smellscape indeed. I was RIGHT THERE.

    We just got back from a short vacation to Charleston, SC, where we experience some Seriously Smelly Days. My favorite: we got up early to make the first ferry trip of the day to Ft. Sumter. Walked past magnolia trees on the way to the ferry station, where I slathered myself and all the kids with sunscreen before we went aboard the ferry, with all those oceany smells – low tide, the salty-metallic smell of the water itself, a whiff of diesel from the nearby freighters, the tarred ropes on the ferry. A woman walked by me wearing waaay too much Opium (my God, honey, it’s 96F at ten in the morning, go easy on that stuff). Ft. Sumter was hot, with the oven-y smell of baked sand, and hints of sweat from tourists.

    Later, it rained – hard – and the beautiful clean, fresh smell rose up from sidewalks and grass. We headed off to visit the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned WWII-era aircraft carrier now housing a museum. There was the low tide smell again, salty and decayed, and the vegetal odor of seagrass. We walked all over the carrier, through the pilot ready room and the bridge, through the medical facilities, through the machine shop with its ghost scents of hot metal and oil and rubber. We walked through the mess hall and the bunk areas – “It smells like the cabins at summer camp in here,” my older son said. And now I know why my father, a Navy vet, used to pick up his dinner plate and smell it to gauge its edibility (before my mother finally lost her temper with that particular practice and the aspersions it cast on her cooking).

  • Olfacta says:

    Beautiful smellscape March! Right now our AC is blasting a lot of the time and the bugs are bad. So we’re not spending much time outside. But when I water the gardens, the dirt and mulch give up a delicious odor like they’re thanking me.

    • carter says:

      Ahhh! I love that smell! And the air temp drops to moderately tolerable. Perfect description “like they’re thanking me.”

  • Madea says:

    I write a lot, especially at night. Sitting in my armchair, I can smell the heated plastic laptop, and the henna I just put in my hair to redden it. mixed with kewda water and honey and an egg.
    The kitten crawls across my lap and licks my neck, and I smell the musky, costus odor of her fur, and her sweet breath (no cat-breath yet) and her clean, soft little neck, with a tinge of distubing, compelling something that might be her scent glands as she rubs my cheek.
    I find when I immerse myself in my writing, the smells come, too. She’s finally having the baby–sweat, her husband’s lavendar pomade, his soapy skin, the neroli cologe one of the women was wearing, the sharp, burned herb smell of the stuff that was supposed to help and didn’t.
    Pushing now, heart hammering, muscles bunching, and then the metallic smell of blood over the crisp, cottony towels, and then it’s done. A little baby blanket smelling of the same neroli, her husband’s voice in her ear, and finally sleep.

  • sweetlife says:

    My plate is too full to contribute today, but I want to stand up and [applauding guy] and [several heart throb guys] this writing and everyone else’s contributions. This is the kind of thing I live for on the blogs, and I’m jealous as all get out of your non-clever talent, March. God knows the world has enough cleverness. What we need is more <3 <3 <3

    Kisses to you all!

  • Angela says:

    Terrific post, March! Let’s have regular smell-ins from you!

    Right now I’m enjoying morning smells: coffee, slept-in bed, wet, crisp air, and cat in lap (although she smells more like love than like cat.)

    • March says:

      So not too hot? Weather sounds a little random around the country. And it looks like I won’t make it there in July 🙁 but I WILL make it there.

  • Dina C says:

    I’ve been immured in my air-conditioned house this summer. I’m not an outdoorsy person, never have been, plus I suffer from allergies. We don’t have a front porch or a back deck. So outdoor smells are brief as I’m walking to my car. The smells I’m surrounded with are household aromas. A combination of good things like fresh-washed kiddos, clean laundry, lavender hand soap from L’Occitane, hot green Lotus tea from Tazo, good food smells. And of course, above all, the perfumes that I choose to wear each day.

    Then there are the not-so-nice smells that come along with the house and its inhabitants. Trash that needs to be taken out, rancid washcloths, stinky kids that need to shower, the contents of my son’s footlocker after a week of Boy Scout camp, dirty dishes and stale food odors, and on and on…

    It’s an ordinary, suburban household but it feels very special to me.

    P.S. I love the fact that several of you are also mystery readers like me, too! I’m re-reading lots of old classics from Georgette Heyer this summer. I like historical mysteries and cozies best.

    • March says:

      Summer seems like the perfect time for those mysteries. I’m not really a beach-book person — chick lit or what have you. But sitting out in the extreme heat reading about Iceland is fun.

      Those rancid washcloths, you made me wince! WHAT IS THAT SMELL. So horrible. And camp locker LOL, man, you want to leave them by the curb for the trashmen.

      And those “ordinary” house smells? I love how different they are from house to house! My dad’s house still smells exactly as I remember it. I can tell, sometimes, whose house my kids have been at by sniffing them.

    • tammy says:

      I LOVE Georgette Heyer!!!! :) My God, I never cease to be amazed at what I find here! Do you read her Regencies, as well?

  • Louise says:

    Oh, March-this is an exquisitely written post. Very lovely.

    A slice of my scent-life? I’ll just do this morning. I woke up to the smell of a bit of leftover Iunx L’ether on the sheets, and some damp parking lot concrete, left from last nights rains. Tinge of ozone as well.

    I hopped in my stinky car-residue of Angelique Encens yesterday, mixed with a few cracker and dear-son-dripped nacho sauce. Blergh.

    Quick drive to the woods. Ah, all good now. Damp dirt, pine needles on the floor, sap oozing. Strolled by the creek-musty, vegetal and dank now-and very comforting. Oddly, a sniff of days-old L’Arte de Gucci popped up as I got sweaty. And the sweat-well it’s my own, but fresh sweat even from companions is vastly under-rated, as you’ve noted, Marchle. The back swing of the trail took me by a pond-also a bit over-ripe in the heat, but comforting in the steaming grass, silty, a bit breezy bright air blowing in.

    Off to home-lovely gasoline odor at the pump, then the habitual scent of dark coffee, my leather sofa, brown rice bubbling.

    Body tired, nose comforted.

  • Musette says:


    Such a beautiful post – thank you! Of course, your posts are always beautiful. Or hysterical. Or both!

    I’m dashing off to the nursing home in a few and that is a smell I really have difficulty with, though the place is clean. It’s the reverse of a nursery – same smell issues but with that downward slant that evinces low-grade horror in the generation to come – I see it, especially in the faces of 50+ men who visit – and it only comes upon them when that weird smell hits them. Most women (at least around here) seem somewhat inured to it. And kids go ‘eww’ and then run around and play like they do anywhere else.

    My house is a smellin’ MESS right now. There is a possibility of an abandoned cistern underneath the front porch stoop (long concrete porch with a step-up at the doorway). This is where the snails come out after the rains and it smells like dead frogs. At the other end of the porch is where the Madonna and Stargazer lilies are blooming and where I have my herb pots. Too much of the Madonnas and ‘gazers and my nose is blown out for an hour. Then the amphibian/aquarium smell assails.

    It’s like the Clash of the Titans.

    xo >-)

    • Gretchen says:

      The Clash of the Titans, what a hoot!

      Yeah, I know that aquarium smell. Urgh.

    • March says:

      Wow, there was a whole cornucopia of smells right there, that was a lot in one sitting to read. The nursing home smell. And those lilies combined with the cistern would likely kill me.

      • Musette says:

        I know how much you 😡 Eau de Grenouille! I usually just scrub down the porch with bleach, figuring I can kill a few snails along the way. The cistern itself if, indeed, there is a cistern, would explain the damp and mold that is pervasive. El O is gonna go down there this weekend and see.

        I will not be joining him.

        xo your ~:> >-)

  • dinazad says:

    So last night I cleaned another part of the balcony (it’s an ongoing process), and the evening smelled first of hot tiles and bleach, with a light “basso continuo” line of sweat, then there was wet earth as I watered my plants just before nightfall, and the smell of calamint and catmint as I cut them to make way for new growth, continuing with the fragrance of peppermint and oregano which were strewn over my tomato tart, the warm scent of baking, the fresh, tingling tartness of a glass of rosé and a whiff of spring from Andy Tauer’s Carillon pour un ange, which makes me incredibly happy. And then the musty but somehow comforting scent of my mother’s much used playing cards as I played a final game of solitaire before spraying myself in insect repellant before bed (my legs look as if I had the measles if I don’t – it seems to be gnat and mosquito season).

    • rosarita says:

      Love the playing card scent! I remember that smell from childhood, when my parents hosted bridge and pinochle parties.

    • March says:

      Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, you’re making me hungry. And I’m very glad the Carillon worked out so nicely. Sorry about the bugs, though!

  • ScentRed says:

    My favorite place in the world is the Manitoulin Island. My mom was born and raised on the Island and retired there more than 15 years ago. I have spent time there every summer of life there. If heaven has a scent, for me it will smell like the Manitoulin: a tapestry of a myriad of gorgeous wild flowers (Queen’s Anne Lace, Devil’s Paintbrush, Wild Rose, Iris, etc,etc), dry hay, green cool water, cedar rail fences, oil-smattered dirt roads, rich soil, pine needles and sweet clover. The moment I step out of the car or off the ferry, I take the deepest breath possible and instantly feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

    The sounds are similarly enchanting, but I won’t go on and on (too much) ;-) I’ll only say my top 3 Island sounds are the choir of perfect-pitch cicadas, the waves lapping up on the beach and the rustle of the aspens in what seems to be an ever present breeze.

    Three more days and I’ll be on vacation. Any guesses where I’m going? Maybe I’m already there ;-)

    • March says:

      Oh, now there’s a gift I wish I’d given my children — a single vacation smell, every year. It sounds like heaven and I can smell (and hear) every bit of it with you! I know nothing about Manitoulin, I will have to google it. Have fun!

  • Tiara says:

    A wonderful, thoughtful piece of writing!

    Sadly, I don’t have anything about which to write as lovingly. My life these days smells of refinished hardwood floors, painter’s tape, paint, and cardboard boxes containing a kitchen’s worth of new new cabinets.

    Oh, and whatever carryout food we had last night.

  • rosarita says:

    Ach, what a wonderfully written, perfect summer post, March! My ability is lacking but I’ll try…

    It’s been hot & steamy here in the rural midwest, too, but we’ve had enough rain to make the truck gardens flourish. Every Wednesday, there’s a big produce auction near here. Local grocery stores are the main buyers of stacks and palettes and mountains of fresh vegetables and fruits. It’s an enormous concrete slab with a roof open on all sides, literally in the middle of a cornfield, for the (mainly) Amish farmers to bring their wares. Along the only wall, there’s a table that sells smaller amounts of produce, along with fresh baked goods – fruit pies, cinnamon rolls, wonderful breads. My interest is in the small item table, but you have to get there early. One side of the floor is usually empty when I get there, a big empty space for the Amish kids to rollerskate on and generally run around while Mom & Dad are busy unloading vegetables: giant shiny white globes of candy sweet onions as big as softballs, gorgeous red perfect tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, new potatoes, green beans, all kinds of peppers, ripe melons, and of course bushel after bushel of sweet corn. Someone has brought a palette of bunches of multicolor gladiolas, the spears tied by dozens thrust in plastic water buckets. Over in the corner are jars of fresh dill. Most of this has been brought to auction in wagons pulled by huge draft horses, who stamp the gravel with those feet as big as pie plates, each stamp raising a little dust cloud. Fruit has been trucked down from Michigan: blueberries, early peaches, plums, Lodi apples, the first of the soft blushing apricots (my favorite). So, that’s the scene, imagine the smells: dust, concrete slightly damp from the humidity, horse, diesel, people, and the surge of scents from all those beautiful stacks of vegetables and fruits, the faint smell of the baked goods. Oh, of course the smell of the cornfield itself, sweet and green and kind of nutty/creamy. To drive to this oasis in the field, I even navigate a mile of gravel road, newly oiled, lying in the hot sunshine. This experience is the essence of summer to me.

    • Musette says:


      Your rural is WAY better than mine. We don’t have the heavy horses here, unless they are for competition so nobody’s pulling anything.

      This sounds/smells absolutely beautiful! Around here are mostly big agribusiness farms, alas.


      xo >-)

      • rosarita says:

        There are plenty of agribusiness farms here, too – cornsoybeanscornsoybeans – but it’s good to know that truck farming is alive and well. Northern IL has tons of truck farms, closer to Chicago. Did you ever read the Edna Ferber novel entitled So Big? It’s about Northern IL truck farming, a hundred years ago. As to horses, this is a really Amishfull area where I am; my transplanted Texan husband calls this the place where a horse can still find a job. ;)

      • March says:

        I know! Don’t you want to go there?

    • March says:

      OH.MY.GOODNESS. I AM THERE!!! Thank you so much! I can smell it all — the fruit, the dust, the damp concrete, that funny cool-indoors-but-not-airconditioned smell. That is the best smell on earth. (petite version: garages.) And now I know what a cornfield smells like! And the oiled gravel road… yes, essence of summer.

  • Melissa says:

    Your writing jolted me into an immediate flashback to the summers of my childhood, which were spent roaming through the neighborhood and lolling about at the community pool. Sound and scent are the two sensory experiences that rise to the top of my memories.

    But my recent smell-picture is decidedly less lovely. The smell of exhaust fumes (and an overheated car spewing coolant!) while sitting in DC suburban traffic. Hot, slightly sweaty people who might rather be sitting by the pool than commuting and working. And in my line of work, some rather unwashed bodies, made worse by the searing heat. I can usually control my reaction to that particular smell and decipher what it says about the inhabitants of those bodies. This usually renders the odor slightly less offensive.

    During those few moments when I’m actually at home and relaxed enough to slow down, I seem to be too tired and drained to notice the scents around me. Clearly, I need some time off!

    • March says:

      You do need some time off. And this weather has definitely brought out the, uh, cumin-y side of many people around me. Since it’s not culturally acceptable here (can I say that?) I’m always curious whether people can’t actually smell themselves, or whether they don’t care? I’m not talking about people who are possibly too ill/old/lacking money to address the issue.

      • Melissa says:

        I believe that in general, people cannot smell their own odors. I would hate to think that they don’t care. Even people who are ill/lacking in money etc find the idea of body odor a bit embarrassing, I don’t you think?

        And yes, I do need some time off. I’m usually drawn to the city, but the ocean would be perfect right about now. Those are scents that are pretty much universally loved.

        • carter says:

          I think you’re right about people and B.O. I also think you’re right about the ocean. I can’t even bear to imagine it right now because I might start wailing and not be able to stop.

        • March says:

          I was standing in TJs with a woman who had a powerful reek of b.o., and she looked rather like me. And not like she’d just come from a run, or yoga, or something. Don’t you know when you stink? I do. Sorry for tmi…

  • emmaflannelflower says:

    I went to a concert with a wonderful young Finlandish violinist a while ago and due to my luck with well-placed friends went out to dinner with the performers.

    My friend thought that I was weird when I asked…..”I wondered what he smelled like?” and during the dinner preceedings (hopefully discreetly) tried to find out.

    Unfortunately, couldn’t get a good enough whiff. A pity. C de G Avignon reminds me of the inside of my violin case.

  • March, this is a beautiful evocative piece you wrote. No time to sit and write a smellscape, but looking forward to reading more.

  • tmp00 says:

    I’m sorry, if you were MORE erudite? What?

    The recent days have smelled of heat. Flat and dry. I come home and my place radiates. My sofa is like sitting on the lap of an of unloved uncle. I have the fan on hurricane and Hearoes in my ears to sleep. Thankfully tonight the marine layer is back.

    I want a vacation someplace chilly..

    • March says:

      Yeah. You know. More cleverer.

      I LOVE like sitting on the lap of an unloved uncle.

      Can’t you drive up to San Francisco? 😕 😉

    • mary says:

      Tom– head up to SF– it’s so chilly people are getting depressed!:)>- I’m on Day 3 of wearing a nice blast of Insolence– I don’t think I could do that in LA right now, at least not without clearing the roads.:)>-

  • Ms. Christian says:

    Oh, March. If you (or Lee) wrote about Elmer’s glue or dried dog doo, I would still be a happy reader. I’m not going to analyze this, but your post reminded me very much of this, my favorite Archibald Macleish poem:

    Archibald MacLeish, “Ars Poetica”

    A poem should be palpable and mute
    As a globed fruit,

    As old medallions to the thumb,

    Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
    Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

    A poem should be wordless
    As the flight of birds.

    A poem should be motionless in time
    As the moon climbs,

    Leaving, as the moon releases
    Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

    Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
    Memory by memory the mind—

    A poem should be motionless in time
    As the moon climbs.

    A poem should be equal to:
    Not true.

    For all the history of grief
    An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

    For love
    the leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

    A poem should not mean
    But be.

    • March says:

      …. and thanks for that. @};- I used to read a lot of poetry, and you’re reminding me why. What a lovely rhythm this one has when I read it aloud.

  • mary says:

    Oh March– you are such a lovely writer. I am sure whatever music you are playing is wonderful. My local bookstore set up a table of scandinavian noir renaissance authors, so we are on the same wavelength. Poor Stig couldn’t finsih the Millenium series, but there are others out there, and I am about to dive in. Since DH took the kids to the grandparents and I am home all alone, I took myself out to see “The Girl Who Played with Fire” last night–it is wonderful. I highly recommend it. It has been a few years since I saw a movie with subtitles– before the kids came along, I saw a lot of foreign films, so this was a little like a time warp. I will look at librarything– but I have to confess, I love picking up odd and random stuff at the local indie bookstores. It doesn’t always work for me– sometimes I end up with a hardcover FAIL, but that’s life. I wonder what cicadas sound like. OK, you asked for a smell picture. For some reason, Guerlain Insolence has taken hold of me. I have enveloped myself in its veil of violet strawberry lushness the last two days. It is overcast here, and not so warm, so perhaps that is why it is suddenly just right. Strawberries are ripe in their little pots on our deck. The apple and plum trees are beginning to make disgraceful messes around themselves. We have Midnight Candy blooming and sending out wafts of sugar-tufted-hello-kitty-eraser sweetness. This is Oakland– the part that doesn’t make the news. Life is good here. :)>-

    • March says:

      Stig’s books — the Cheese and I read them, and then Diva’s just finished the third. She and I saw the first two films together, and I agree, they’re wonderful, although the folks near us (who hadn’t read the second book) were so confused they got up and left. I thought the actors who played Salander and Blomkvist were brilliant.

      Cicadas sound like summer. I missed them so much in Santa Fe … here’s some .wav files, these are Michigan cicadas, I note the midwestern accent, but the Massachusetts cicadas are too stuffy sounding.

      Oh my goodness! I love your fruit-and-flower smell picture.

      • mary says:

        March, thank you for that sound file. The cicada sounds like the rhythm part of one of the songs on Spiritchaser by Dead Can Dance. Like crickets on speed. This knowledge adds a whole new dimension to all those novels of southern literature where the protagonist looks out into the night, listening to the cicadas, then goes off and does something crazy. Thanks again!

        • March says:

          Oh, you’re welcome. I’m very fond of the sound, but then I grew up with it, so I find it soothing rather than disturbing. Now I want to listen to that song.

          • mary says:

            Song of the stars, from spiritchaser– the sound that reminds me of the cicadas starts at around 1:07 into the 10 minute piece I found on You Tube– I didn’t forward you a link, because I suspect those versions on YouTube do not belong there, in the strictest legal sense. The cicadas come and go. There are also crickets, a sound which I have always loved. Plus lots of other interesting ambient sounds– Now I need to dig out my old cd and play it for real. I loved that album. Take care, March! :)>-

      • carter says:

        Lawd, they used to drop down the chimneys and scare the crap out of me! I do not miss the cicadas.

      • Olfacta says:

        The cicadas in Michagan have a deeper collective “voice” than ours! That’s a surprise. I was swimming in a pool the other day and found a dead one — probably about 3″ long.

        One way to have fun with sound files — freak out your cat. I play birdsongs on mine.

  • carter says:

    You don’t want me to paint a smell-picture from recent days, you really don’t. And today I was walking up 5th Avenue near NYU and there was an enormous inflatable rat on the sidewalk — like one of those Macy’s floats, but on the dang sidewalk — with bright red eyes and claws curled menacingly above my head as nervously hurried past. It was bad enough that I was on my way to have a mammogram done (no perfume permitted, you have got to be s**ting me!) I really didn’t need to smell melty rubber rat stank en route. I swear, I feel like I’m on the Verge of Vomit every time I venture out these days in this oppressive heat. You know how puke makes you want to puke? Like that.

    Anyhoo…Francesca sent me an Iceland detective/murder mystery novel not too long ago and there were an awful lot of dead people in Iceland. Right now I’m reading The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer and it’s mighty fine, plus I’m listening to a terrific modern noir audible book called Galveston by a first-time author named Nic Pizzollato which got a boffo review the other day from Dennis Lehane in the NYTimes Book Review. The reader happens to be one of my favorite audible book narrators (he also does a lot of the Thomas Perry books) and I am digging the heck out of it.

    • carter says:

      Here’s Lehane’s review, for anyone who’s interested

    • Musette says:

      You must’ve been walking past a construction picket sight. They LOVE the rat. Love him. Morons. Not dissing Unions (well, not much) and not dissing the right to strike…but I hate that rat.

      I didn’t know they had Thomas Perry audiobooks – not that it would matter, as I’ve read all this stuff twice (and, in the case of Metzger’s Dog and his earlier stuff, prolly 4 times. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard as I did reading Island and I nearly froze to death w/ Metzger’s Dog because I got so engrossed I forgot to turn on the car!

      March just got MDog – hope she loves it.

      xo >-)

      No perfume? They probably mean no perfume in the poitrine (same with the pits/deodorant) – you could perfume your ankles, right? Or are they just being tiresome?

      • Musette says:


        I meant ‘site’ not ‘sight’

        and I feel your Urban Pain. Summer in NYC is kinda ooky, from an olfactory standpoint.

        xo >-)

        • March says:

          Oh for Pete’s sake, M. Nobody worries about those things, don’t sweat it. Although for future reference, since you are Quing (along with me) … if you go into the dashboard and find your comment you can edit it.

          • Musette says:

            I know. which is why I said WordFreak. Nobody cares – until it’s ‘them’ that writes it! LOL!

            Thanks for the info on how to edit. yay!

            xo >-)

      • March says:

        Looky there, I have to read down exactly ONE comment and I know what the rat is. The people on this blog are so well-informed. I’ve just ordered a buncho books online, looking forward to another! xo

      • carter says:

        Yes, there are ginormous rats all of the city, but not construction sites. Non-union restaurants, doormen and supers, things like that. This was the same building where one day I was walking past and I heard this old, old woman say to the (evidently non-union) doorman, “George, I have figured out what has been missing from my life” and George goes, “And what would that be, Mrs. Mortimer?” and she replies, “Meat!” I wonder if the the rats have run off with it. Heck, they could probably run off with Mrs. Mortimer if they felt like it.

        Yes, Anita, audible has Tomas Perry, and just about everyone else you can think of. I’ve read everything, too, but I just listened to his latest one and I loved the narrator so much that I went back and found one I had already read and listened to it again. I really need to have a book on my iPhone when I’m walking around town to distract me from all the ratz.

    • March says:

      Bleh, like the smell isn’t intense enough, they need a giant RAT?!? There’s an explanation, I know, but I’m not sure I want it. And I do remember the smell of NYC a couple years ago when we were all there and it was 100+ degrees …. pretty intense. I hope the mammo’s over soon and you can go home and put something soothing on. Like Manoumalia. @};- Have a Bluebell bath soak first.

      • carter says:

        It menaced me with its long puffy claws. Srsly, I had to walk under them and it did give me the creeps. Actually, the smell wasn’t so bad…like an inflatable kiddie pool on a urine soaked sidewalk.