Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

Throughout the month of January, WordPress is sending participating bloggers a writing prompt each day. It’s a way to find some creative inspiration and perhaps make connections with other bloggers. My entries in this blogging challenge will appear here under the tag #bloganuary.

[See this post from March 2020 for other examples related to this topic.]

A couple of #bloganuary posts ago, I alluded to an experience my wife and I shared in May 2018–a trip to Spain to walk the 110-kilometer Camino Inglés, one of the many routes of the Camino de Santiago. Our trip began in the northern coastal port of Ferrol, and for the first few days, our route took us through some of the larger cities and towns nearer to the coast, with plenty of hills and forests between them. Some of our walking in those first few days was along highways, but as we moved further to the south, the trail wound through rural backroads and smaller villages. We generally tried to be out and on the trail fairly early in the mornings, and on one of the middle days of our trek the trail markers led us off the road, and onto a path that cut through the countryside between farms.

Woman walking on a shady path next to a golden farm field.

At one point we walked past a freshly-plowed and naturally-fertilized field (I didn’t get a photo of the field this post refers to, but the photo above is from our 2018 Camino walk). We could tell as we walked alongside the furrows in the rich, black soil, that manure had been sprayed in liquid form on the field–in a few places where the path was very close to the edge of the field, there were splatters of the stuff on the grass right next to the path.

The smell was unambiguous–it was definitely manure–but not unpleasant, as strange as that may sound. The aroma was intense, a bit overwhelming at first, but the aroma of the manure, mixed with the smell of the plowed ground itself was earthy and rich, and we got used to it quickly. I remember that I said something to my wife about the smell, noting that I actually sort of liked it–it evoked pleasant feelings.

Thinking back on it today, I imagine that the aroma of that field connected somehow to my childhood memories of my grandfather’s dairy farm–very much a happy place in my youth.

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