We have a secret up here and I am going to tell it to you now. Winter has a smell. So does snow. Yes it really does. They are perfectly distinct one from another. Winter smells like woodsmoke, thick winey stew, bread baking, pine, and the old burner when it is newly full of oil…. which everyone believes.
Snow smells like freshly pressed linen which only people from way up north can believe and actually understand. Or maybe raw silk. Have you ever been in one of those little boutique stores that specialize in linens and natural raw fabrics? They are constantly steaming the clothes in there. Think of that crisp smell in that close place and take away all warmth and you have the smell of snow. Now pair that with a little woodsmoke hanging over the valley from all the chimneys and you will have the smell that lingers just outside our back door. At night when the moon is full and the snow is crisp and sparkling, the smell is perfectly clear without any interference from warming cars, or wet barking dogs, or kids eating snacks, It hits you in the face the way the clothes smell when they are just fresh from the dryer. It is too cold for the loamy smells of the woods that will permeate everything by May. It is too cold even for the smell of the piney woods to hide the top layer of snowy air. You get hints of pine when it is ten below, but the overwhelming flavor is of snow. Eli’s cheeks after only an hour or so on the sled smell like snow. All our hats and mittens and even my coat and hair smell like the snow. Really. I swear.
Today I drove into a snow drift. I hit a small patch of ice and braked uselessly while my car careened slowly down the slippery slope on the side of the road. I tried backing out and only succeeded in digging myself even deeper into the bank. Luckily I was close to home. I pushed hard and opened my door and stepped into the four feet or so of snow. I walked, getting my skirt and long johns soaked. It was slow going since it was deeper than my legs are long. I trudged home and when I came in the smell of snow was so powerful that it brought John calling, “hey somebody left a door open the snow is coming in”.
No only me, the Abominable wife, coated from the waist down and filling the house with the heady smell of fresh snow. I headed for the tub while the boys headed out on the rescue mission for the car. I sat in a deep tub full of hot water and grinned thinking about how it was the smell of snow that brought them out. Snow has a smell. Who knew?