Late May : Scent Diary

The musky warmth of peonies heated by the sun. The spicy bite of a walnut leaf. The milky greenness of a raw walnut that leaves brown stains on my fingers and a scent of aged wine. The caramel sweetness of first strawberries. A green apricot sprinkled with a bit of salt–a childhood pleasure and a taste of fresh almonds and grass. The ripeness of sprouted onions found in the cellar, the ripeness, dust and sulfur. The pharmacy cabinet smell of yarrow. The pungent blanket of mulch. The vertigo-giving freshness of a sudden storm. The bitter honey and lemon peel of elder blossoms. A late May afternoon.

You can write about anything you wish in this thread, including your favorite poetry. For those who would like to use the Scent Diary to sharpen their sense of smell, I will give a short explanation. As I wrote in How to Improve Your Sense of Smell, the best way to do so is to smell and to pay attention to what you’re smelling. It doesn’t matter what you smell. The most important thing is to notice scents around you. It’s even better if you write it down. So please share your scents and perfumes with us.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Severine: Smell of the bookstore near the river.
    Smell of the bookstore that sold children’s books when I was young.
    Smell of a new book.
    Smell of pine needles when a breeze blows through them.
    Smell of slaughterhouse in my village.
    Smell of dollar bills.
    Smell of my panties.
    Smell of lentil soup with marjoram, celery, carrots, onions, garlic.
    Smell of my new handbag. May 28, 2018 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: The bookstore smell is one of my favorites! May 29, 2018 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Jennifer M: The smell of May: magnolia grandiflora wafting through an open window from the towering magnolia that grows outside the room where I write. It’s in full bloom now, some blossoms yellowing like antique ivory, others tightly wrapped buds. The scent is intoxicating and impossible to duplicate. May 28, 2018 at 12:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I still remember the scent of magnolias from my student days. The smell of the south for me. May 29, 2018 at 2:04pm Reply

  • Filomena: I love the photograph.
    I love the smell of a new-born baby.
    I love the smell of newly mowed grass.
    I love the smell of garlic and onions simmering in olive oil.
    I love the smell of gardenias and roses.
    I love the smell of baby powder.
    I love the smell of rain on a spring morning.
    I love the smell of my iris perfumes. May 28, 2018 at 12:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: So many beautiful scents! May 29, 2018 at 2:05pm Reply

  • Aurora: You had a very fragrant day, Victoria.

    Here is mine: this morning the scent of hot cinnamon in my coffee, crushing one leaf off my rosemary tree, this evening the smell of myrrh e.o. on my wrist and Must de Cartier on the other.

    La mort viendra et elle aura tes yeux. Cesare Pavese May 28, 2018 at 1:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: So is yours!

      I was just reading Pavese’s La Lune et Les Feux. May 29, 2018 at 2:05pm Reply

  • Emilie: I really enjoy reading about the smells everyone comes across in their day to day.

    Winter has come early to the Adelaide Hills this May and I am hating the bitter cold but loving the rain and the mineral scent in the air that preludes it. Afterwards my garden has all the wonderful wet smells of earth, mulch and greenery.

    I’m wearing a lot of my favourite Kenzo Flower to remind me that even though Winter is not even officially here Spring will come around eventually! This year I’ve noticed its powdery violet and rose smell is very similar to that in my everyday Coty airspun powder.

    Also bringing our rabbit Luna inside every evening because it’s way too chilly for her out in the hutch. She has a delicious musty, yeasty smell like a bread roll when I nuzzle her with my nose in the soft spot between her ears on the back of her neck May 28, 2018 at 8:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, the scent of a rabbit! What color is Luna? May 29, 2018 at 2:06pm Reply

      • Emilie: White with blue eyes. She’s a bit of a beauty 🙂 May 29, 2018 at 2:43pm Reply

  • Brenda: I was in a church today and noticed that churches never smell like anywhere else.
    Utterly unique. My car seems filled with a blend of scents…sun, perfume, warm sunglasses, long gone french fries…& coffee.
    The elevator I take daily has a scent I don’t like / though I’m trying to get over that. I guess it’s a blend of humans on the go, take out food and very little fresh air! Perhaps someday I will learn to embrace it. On the brighter side, my daughter and I walked past a blooming lilac bush today & enjoyed a lovely sniff. Beautiful photo Victoria…thank you. May 28, 2018 at 10:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Does your church use incense? May 29, 2018 at 2:06pm Reply

      • Brenda: I actually don’t attend or belong to a specific church. I was attending a funeral when I noticed, what is to me, a distinctive church scent. I like it…sort of calm and clean and slightly chilly until you aclimatize to it. In this particular one, I didn’t pick out an incense scent. Though I love to wear perfume, I always mind not to wear any to a church, synagogue, etc. I have a wedding to attend this summer…I will pay better attention to what my nose picks up! May 29, 2018 at 4:00pm Reply

  • Andrea: I love the smell of freshly cut Pak Choi. I also love the smell of black tea leaves. I love the smell of a certain street car stop in Cologne during the two weeks in May, when all the Robinias are in bloom. And I’m crazy for the scent of peanut puffs. May 29, 2018 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Carla: My two year old son and I got down on our knees in the garden this morning to smell the Lily-of-the-valley. We knelt and put our noses close to the earth to reach those small blooms sheltered among the bleeding hearts. When they are picked their special scent can shift to non-descript green after a day, so I leave them.
    The garden changed so much in the mere three days we were gone for Memorial Day weekend. This morning lilacs wafted around the corner of the house in the breeze as I sat outside for breakfast. When I ran the sprinkler for my flowers some new green scent of ground cover and stone appeared. I wish I had paid more attention to be able to describe it. I have learned it is not so much a special talent to describe scents; it takes simply paying attention. The smell of (unpacked) cardboard boxes since I would rather be outside in my new garden than unpacking… May 29, 2018 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Wietske: The smell of puppies!! May 30, 2018 at 12:19pm Reply

  • JennyJo: Flowers – well, if anybody
    Can the ecstasy define,
    Half a transport, half a trouble,
    With which flowers humble men,
    Anybody find the fountain
    From which floods so contra flow,
    I will give him all the daisies
    Which upon the hillside blow.

    Too much pathos in their faces
    For a simple breast like mine.
    Butterflies from San Domingo
    Cruising round the purple line
    Have a system of aesthetics
    Far superior to mine.

    Emily Dickinson May 31, 2018 at 1:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for this poem! June 4, 2018 at 7:22am Reply

  • Inma: These days I have discovered a new plant for me, it is a “chinese jasmin” (rhynchospermun jasminoides), while jaminum grandiflorum plants don´t bloom very much yet.
    Somehow the chinese jasmin doesn´t smell so sensual to me compared to grandiflorum.
    For me it is more a family with children smell. I am loving it, although grandiflorum´s perfume will always be my favourite.
    Inma June 7, 2018 at 9:11am Reply

    • Victoria: It smells a bit musty and spicy to me. But it blooms so profusely. June 12, 2018 at 2:21am Reply

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