The scent of home.

thMy partner treasures memories of visiting his grandmother, whose home smelled delicious. That’s why DF likes to have the scent of cookies baking when his granddaughter comes to visit. He wants her memories to be quite literally as sweet as his.

For the past two days our home has been grandchild-free but has smelled delicious nonetheless. We roasted a small turkey and canned most of it, simmered the bones for stock, cooked down the contents of a boiling bag, made a batch of zucchini cookies* for me to take to the potluck that precedes “The Walking Dead” at a local bar** and baked a ham (much of which DF parceled into bags for the freezer).

I’ve needed both the figurative and literal warmth of such a setting, since the light is going away, the temperature has been in the low teens, and the election season left me exhausted and depressed. Being in a warm, deliciously scented place with a man whom I adore has been an absolute tonic.


The fragrance of our place varies from day to day. It could be slightly yeasty (when I’m making yogurt or DF is making bread), or chlorinated (on Mopping Monday***), or a bit smoky (when we’re getting the fireplace insert going), or sweetly scented by clothes drying on racks. It’s also likely to smell like whatever’s for dinner, with a touch of newsprint (we still subscribe) and secondhand books.


Scent that can’t be commercialized

These are the kinds of aromas that Glade or Yankee Candles can never hope to approximate. Olfactory traces of cleaning, laundering and cooking combine to make the scent of home. It’s the fragrance of love and life, a refuge from the outside world.

For the reasons noted above – plus a couple of issues too personal to discuss – I’ve lately appreciated this refuge all the more. Earlier this evening I wondered aloud whether he and I would have been such a good fit had we met 30 or 40 years ago. Maybe, maybe not.

As he pointed out, there might have been that “sense of impatience, or self-righteousness” often experienced in one’s youth. Or, he added, “the failure to appreciate the beauty of simple things.”

Things like starting seeds for the greenhouse, taking a walk during a long summer twilight, or watching his granddaughter pick raspberries in our yard. We have special events as well, such as live theater or the Anchorage Symphony, and those are wonderful.

But so is a quiet evening of side-by-side reading, in a house that smells like fresh bread and air-dried sheets. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty in the everyday.

*Basically these are cinnamon- and clove-scented sugar cookies whose butter and sugar content not only mask the presence of shredded squash but also negate any nutritional value associated with such.

**Our local cable carrier ditched the AMC channel. Linda B. and I now hit a neighborhood bar that has satellite television and promotes a friendly atmosphere for zombie fans. The cookies were a big hit, probably because I didn’t mention the zucchini.

***Like my mother, DF loves the smell of Clorox in the morning. Or any time, really.


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  1. Such a beautiful article. That is what areal home should feel like – that unique amazing smell nothing can replicate.

  2. Robin Gonzalez

    I do like some odors, but candles and scented washing powder, I can’t take. I don’t know if I am allergic or not, but I constantly sneeze and my nose runs. Can’t have a real Christmas tree, but that’s ok because they are way too expensive around here. Thought maybe I was the only one who felt depressed after the election. As one Senator put it,”The horror show has not even started. This is just the overture!” Being older, I love watching the squirrels, turkeys and deer. I must admit I waste some money feeding them and watching them run down to me when I go out with the bucket. The older I get the more I realize I might not have too much more of it, so I am enjoying it all now.

    • Donna Freedman

      “Enjoying it all now” — that’s the point, I think. Don’t let your life spool by like a video being fast-forwarded.

      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  3. The election was “draining” …. BUT I for one am glad to see folks so passionate about their beliefs and expressing their wishes by voting. Not so long ago I remember “apathy” ruled the day and many folks didn’t bother to vote. That seems to have reversed especially in young people…which…IMHO….is great. And for me, now a days, few things can compare to the satisfaction gained from growing a tomato plant from a single seed started in February that provided many bushels of tomatoes from that one plant. You’re right…..”it’s the little things”….Hope all is well…

  4. I am with DF, I love the smell of Clorox, and pine sol, Windex and lemon pledge. I think of them as the scents of a clean and loved home.

    • Donna Freedman

      Pine Sol makes DF think of honey buckets — the nonflushing indoor toilets of his youth. Apparently you’d pour a little Pine Sol in now and then to keep the smell down until the buckets got emptied. Eeewww.

  5. Wow! Inspiring me for the coming cooking fest. I have a little lavender diffuser hanging on my reading lamp here in my office. Very helpful to induce the calm as I read the news. I’m having a Christmas party the first weekend of December so the deep cleaning will commence soon with all its uplifting scents.
    Ah, the light-even living at 37 degrees I so look forward to the solstice. More wanting of warm food and drinks. And lack of motivation to do much of anything after sunset.
    Loving thoughts for the “personal issues”. Hope those resolve soon. Cuts into the bandwidth.
    We will need to conserve some bandwidth if the political situation gets really ugly and we need to stand up for our fellow humans who are being harmed.

  6. Cathy in NJ

    My family had differing opinions about the election. My daughter and I on one side and my husband on the other. As a family we decided to leave this type of strife out of our home life. We listened to learn the reasons for each persons choice of candidate. We spent some unpleasant time trying to change the others mind. Then we all agreed to disagree, to realize the views expressed by either side did not match the love and care we experienced from each other on a daily basis. We turned off the endless news channels in the car and at home. We listened to music instead or watched our favorite TV programs. We made delicious meals together and smelled those wonderful home made dinner and baked apple and pumpkin pie smells. It wasn’t perfect but it minimized the madness.

  7. My house smells strongly of garlic right now, courtesy of a dear friend visiting, and there’s nothing more comforting during this period of unremitting stress. Politically, professionally, worrying about personal safety and the safety of friends and fellow citizens who are struggling with inequalities, to say the least.

  8. I agree, Donna – there’s nothing like the scent of home and holiday (or everyday) baking and cooking. And artificial scents just don’t cut it. A local grocery store used to have holiday displays of artificially-scented pinecones that made my eyes water every time I walked into the store past them. I do like some scented candles, but I’m very selective – and they’re no substitute for the real thing.

  9. Lake Livin'

    I love reading about you & DF. I’m so glad you’ve found a special person with whom to share your life. You two seem so compatible! My Mother, after 36 years alone, has met someone special. It’s been fun seeing her so happy and having someone to do things with.

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