Friday, February 15, 2008

Eau de Dung

After a bitingly cold winter, this week has seen the advent of spring here in tiny, beautiful Holland. I smelled spring coming, just like I smell the first day of winter. It is no big feat to smell spring coming here, if you are a foreigner. There are telltale signs if you are not born Dutch: even though I live in a city, the air carries with it a certain scent only detectable by us, non-natives. The Dutch seem to be accustomed to it – or at least the ones I have asked are – they do not smell it at all. That scent is perhaps not the most romantic, but to me, it has become beautiful through association: It is the smell of newly fertilized fields. Yes, you read that right; I am indeed talking about the smell of dung, the smell of manure. A smell I normally cower away from, furiously rolling up the window when passing from a field with the car. Yet, in such small concentrations, a mere hint of it carried by the wind all the way to our lovely city, the scent becomes almost swoon-worthy. I haven’t always been this positive about it: when I first moved here the smell of spring shocked me – I could hardly believe people went calmly about their way, apparently not noticing anything. I’d tug the sleeve of my partner: “Don’t you smell the poo?”, I’d ask anxiously. The answer was always no. Noone seemed to smell the poo. Finally, relief came when I discovered that there was a group that indeed did smell it – the international students. We learned to anticipate spring by this first smell, we learned to recognize the end of the long hard winters by it. After living here for many years, I finally discover I’ve learned to love it, as funny as that might sound. To me, it has become the equivalent of a drop of civet in a beautiful fragrance. Yes, the scent of the newly fertilized fields is the civet in the wonderful mélange of smells the gorgeous city I live in has to offer come spring. It mingles with the scent of the narcissi and daffodils along the banks of the Rhine, it mingles with the smell of freshly cut grass. Most importantly, it mingles with the smell of awakening that comes with bright blue skies and sunny afternoons. It makes my heart beat faster, like I’ve just fallen in love.

In love with life, my heart has been beating madly all week.

Are there any strange smells you enjoy?
Enjoy the coming of spring, my dears! She’s finally here.

Image from www.freefoto.com


19 comments:

PinstripedZebra said...

What smell are you talking about? I don't smell anything...:)

//Z

italian girl said...

This article made me laugh out loud. The only smell others may find strange that I enjoy is... diesel fuel.. like at an airport..I am guessing I enjoy it because I do not travel by plane often and associate the smell with my childhood, and teenage trips to Italy..
sorry, I could not enjoy something completely disgusting smelling like blue cheese...but, i do like to eat it.

Have a great weekend all!!

edwardian said...

Winter chill is still biting here, but at least we're having luminous, sunny days (the other option is fog and humidity, so you can see why I'm happy anyway).
Your post instantly put in my brain the smell of the fields that surround my hometown, which, dung or not, I really like.
Coincidentally, this week I had a craving for spring scents and I bought a wonderful candle called Hyacint and Bluebell by Floris.
Have you ever smelled Bluebell by Penhaligon's? I really like that one too, it's floral and seriously earthy at the same time.

Jenavira13 said...

Interesting look at scent Divina. I don't thing I will ever look at the scent of dung as a sign of spring. It is all to easy to find here through out the year with overly crowded cattle ranches that are in the state. Strangely I don't like the smell of grass because I find it highly indolic to my nose, but on the other hand I do happen to like the scent of hay. Like so many I am bizarrely attracted to the scent of gasoline.

greeneyes said...

Manure! I used to get that in West Texas in the spring and summer when I was a girl. The wind would carry the scent into town from the stockyards.

I enjoy the smell of mildew in old papers and books. And I actually like the smell of dirt...and gasoline. I know--weird, right? :-)

Flora said...

Here is another gasoline fan - nice and fresh from the pump of course. Also, skunk essence when it's very diluted and caught on the breeze, talk about "animalic" - and horse manure, fresh or dried.

Once I met a rescued wolf and I was able to get very close - what an amazing smell that animal had! I would like to smell it again, the very essence of wildness. Musky does not even begin to describe it, but it was wonderful.

chayaruchama said...

You know, D, I get what you're saying...
When I've visited friends in the Netherlands [ who live in cities, ostensibly !],I always pick up that odor- gratefully, I'll add.

i love it- loam, chalk, soil, dung, all of it.
Yes indeedy.
[Kisses to you]

Linda said...

"In love with life, my heart has been beating meadly all week". This was absolutely beautiful, Divina. Thank you immensely for such an interesting (and funny!) post.
To add to all the above - yes, I like diesel fuel, and 2 stroke, and the smell of damp earth. Lots of bulbs appearing in our garden.
And my first fragrance of the year today: Diorella. Springlike!
With warmest hugs,
Linda

Divina said...

Z! *hugs the cloggy* :)

Divina said...

Hi Italian Girl! I like eating blue cheese (I am a cheese fanatic btw) and as for its smell, well, I don't mind it. The one that KILLS me though is Camembert cheese. That is a smell I really cannot stand.. It reminds me of the smell of a bacteria infested dirty kitchen washcloth. Gack!

Divina said...

Hello dearest Edwardian :) I haven't smelled either of the scents you mention, unfortunately. I will look for them, I am especially curious about the Penhaligons frags - I have largely ignored the line even though several of the scents are available here. I also get intense cravings for spring frags when the weather turns to spring.. My own suggestion is Hanami by Annayake :) Fabulous!

Divina said...

Hi Jen! I love both the smell of grass and hay. Grass sometimes has a milky quality to my nose - strange, isn't it? As for gasoline... I don't like the gasoline smell when it is pumped into a car, but I LOVE the gasoline smell emitted by a speedboat in the sea. I wonder if it is a different kind?

Divina said...

Greeneyes, have you also noticed there is a certain kind of sweetness to the smell of old books? I love that!

Divina said...

Flora! You make me SOOOO curious! I'd love to smell wolf! LOL! As for skunk, I've never smelled either the animal itself or the skunk spray..You make me very curious, even though I've heard the scent is awful. Thank you so much for your comment - you're so adventurous.

PS: I like horse manure too. :P

Divina said...

Chaya dearest, I had to wiki loam, I'd never heard of the word before. As for chalk, something strange: I don't like the smell itself but I love...how should I say it? The after-effect? It has this perfect dryness that I am looking for in a perfume. Same with dust-clouds rising from a dirt-road. Very elusive dryness, I'm waiting for the scent that has it still! Goudray's latest filled me with hope when I first smelled it, but as you can see from my review it ended up being a disappointment... Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Divina said...

Linda, have you tried Ava Luxe's Palisander? If you like the scent of damp earth you are going to *love* this one! It is absolutely fabulous. It is a smell I adore as well :)

Big hugs to you!

tmp00 said...

Do you know we get the same thing here? It seems that there is about one week in mid-March that everyone has their lawn dethatched and fertilised. It's all poop in Beverly Hills for those five days, and I kind of like it..

Divina said...

Tom, really? I would have never imagined that!!

Petra said...

This cloggie is smelling it!!