It must have been the spring air.
I took a revitalising constitutional around West Dean College grounds today and really noticed the smells.
The second was Sarcococca – an insignificant shrub that you wouldn’t invite to party – but so sour-sweet like sherbet lemons for the nostrils. I was inhaling the refreshing spirit of the early Spring sunshine. Something cheering.
The third was woodsmoke. I could not say if it came from the Oak Hall or the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, but it took my mind to Beowulf’s mead hall, by way of the smoke-preserved thatch of 10th century Finns. It tickled my nose with history – and a pang of hunger. I smiled to think of the pervasive reek of kippering near Fortune’s in Whitby. Something homely.
I returned fairly briskly – thinking of other smells as I went past the swiftly-flowing winterbourne. Such a green scent here, lush and damp with growth. A smell of hope. But damp can have another smell: a smell of rot and despair; of enclosed and festering places. Something disturbing.