Monday, July 5, 2010

30 Days of Smell

Day 7: Sulfur

Last night, we met some friends along the canal in downtown Indianapolis to watch the fireworks. Before they began, someone lit some sparklers next to us. The sulfur smell caught my attention and took me back to childhood. I remember being a bit afraid of sparklers, yet mesmerized by them. We would take them in our hands and circle our arms wide, making an arc. The hot sparks would fall of on my wrists, smarting them, but not enough to stop playing.

Once the fireworks started, the sulfur smell hovered in the hot, humid air of the evening. The odor was mildly unpleasant—sort of a burnt, eggy aroma. It lingered way past the time when any smoke from the fireworks remained. It’s a distinctive scent with strong associations. I don’t think I notice it during any other time than around the 4th of July.

Sulfur is what I would call an “anniversary smell.” It happens yearly at a predictable time and evokes images of celebrations, patriotic music, and red, white and blue. In fact, a friend said to me recently that when she smells a sparkler, she “feels” blissfully patriotic. I don’t know that I have the same reaction or feel compelled to hum “America, the Beautiful.” I do feel deeply grateful for the freedom and privileges I enjoy because I live in this country. Sulfur may be a disagreeable smell, but it stirs a good feeling.

No comments: