Thursday, 17 July 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: Nosey Delights

From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

The Rosemary is flowering

I have a herb garden, not because of the smells, but for cooking. Ok, it is nice to have the scent of rosemary, basil and thyme wafting through the air, but it is not such a big deal. The herbs grow every year generally. Some do not, such as the Rosemary, I cover it with a warm cloth in the Winter, even put it under plastic, and have an encouraging conversation.

“Come on Rosemary, I know your feet are cold, but only another month and the spring has arrived. Do not give up now, I need you for my roasted lamb.”

“Forget it Mrs. Angloswiss, my stalks are freezing and covered with snow. There are icicles hanging from my needles. I am not ready for this. I was kidnapped. I should be spreading my roots somewhere in Mediterranean regions. I was not meant for a Swiss life” and with that my rosemary gave up the ghost and breathed her last scent.

I replaced my rosemary and yes, bingo! She grew five years in my garden, thanks to mild winters and rewarded me with flowers. This was two years ago and her flowers were just a goodbye to Swiss conditions. Now I have two rosemary plants. I will probably have to give them mouth to mouth resuscitation if I want them to over live the next winter, or buy a new one in the supermarket.

Freshly mowed grass is also a scent I like, the problem being when one neighbour mows his lawn, so do the others: a mass mowing session. The complete area smells of freshly cut grass, it is overpowering. There is always an advantage in doing things in small measures.

Living in an agricultural area the air is abound with the scent of cow dung, gas fumes from the famer’s tractor and b-b-q smoke when the grilling season is upon us. I do not grill, but the neighbours do. I do not need to grill, I capture the inviting smell of sizzling meat in the atmosphere from the others. Sometimes when a neighbour does not have her grill under control, I am almost suffocated by smoke and the smell of burnt flesh. Oh to live in the country.

The big deal is in spring and autumn. In spring the famer wants to plant his crops and in autumn they are harvested and the ground must again be prepared for the next sewing session. It is nature’s way to recycle, nature wastes nothing. For this reason the famers have prepared a mixture of rotting organisms, liquefied to fit in the tank on the muck spreader. Some call it fertiliser. The muck in liquid form is sprayed on the surrounding countryside to be sure of a good harvest: tall strong plants and sturdy ears of wheat. Yes the cows also add their contribution to the mixture. Oh, for a country life. The farmer is very generous with his liquid fertiliser and the complete village shares in the wonderful aroma. Unfortunately it is a conspiracy and every rural village in the area does its best. It is a competition to see which village wins with the strongest smell.

Life is not only filled with such negative smells. I remember the day when I thought it would be a good idea to bake my own bread. It was not something new, I had done it before, and every good obedient Swiss housewife bakes her own Zopf  for Sunday. Being only 50% Swiss I was not so good at this. However, home baked bread is a delight to the nose. It is even shared with the neighbours and they realise that Mrs. Angloswiss is a perfect housewife when the scent evolves from her kitchen window. As I was too lazy to do it all the time, I dropped a small hint, and son No. 2 presented me with a bread baking machine. I love machines even it it did not have a Logitech mouse, so I decided yes, I would do it. I must say I did it for at least a couple of months. Just throw the flour and yeast in the machine with some liquid, switch it on and return when the bell rings. It was perfect, but….. yes, the bread was always the same shape and using electricity. Mrs. Angloswiss did her best. I still have the bread baking machine, it is in the cellar. One day I will use it again, of course.

I remember my first encounter with a certain plant. It was in a Swiss mountain restaurant where we were spending a holiday. I noticed a strange smell, almost irritating. I looked at Mr. Swiss and asked “can you smell it?”. “What” he answered. I continued  “It smells like cat piss” (sorry but I could not find a better word). Mr. Swiss turned his head and said “it is that young lady who is smoking a joint on the next table”. My first encounter with the smell of “weed” but even that is a product of nature. I now recognise the smell and even had a few plants in the garden, but they were unfortunately mostly male plants, the weedy ones with no leaves. The female sort are very pretty and bushy.

My favourite smell? I have no time for smells, am busy writing my prize winning blog.

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  1. What a delightful entry to read this summer day. I can think of my favorite smells too. It can be delicious aromas coming from a restaurant. I don't know if you have pizza restaurants in your town, That has to be one of my favorite smells. Freshly moved lawn is also a nice smell. I live in a suburban area but there are farms within a short driving distance. There is a large dairy farm in Durham and sometimes when we drive past it the smell of cow dung is prevalent.
    I love the sweet fragrance of roses when they are in bloom. I don't have any rose plantsin my yard. I love the smell of basil. I did grow it a couple of summers ago. I'm the only person in my house that likes its smell and flavor. A lot of it went to waste.
    I grew up in a city close to a river that was polluted. There was a paper mill that dumped its waste into the river. The river was sometimes a bright green and when the tide went out, the smell was horrendous. We lived several streets away from the river. We couldn't smell it in the winter but when it was summer with open windows it was unpleasant.
    You mentioned about the smell of "weed" and I make a personal connection with that smell. I took my nephews to a college football game and some people in the bleacher were smoking pot. My nephews questioned what was that smell. I couldn't come up with an answer. I'm sure that they were familiar with the smoke when they grew up.

    1. I have quite a crop of basil this year, but had to defend them from the slug attacks. I generally use it for tomato salads with mozarella and flavouring italian dishes. I also have quite a lot of chives, again a slug favourite. I think they like everything we like.

  2. I have lots of smells that I like. in the herb garden, a particular favourite is plain old mint. I love that smell.

    The worst thing I ever smelled (smelt?) was when I visited a tannery in Morocco. I don't have words that can describe how bad that smell was!!

    1. We were told to hold peppermint plants under our nose when we visited the tannery in Marrakesh. Those poor young men, almost kids, working with the hides all the day in the heat.