I Swear

January 19, 2009 by Ellen Stimson in Vermont. New England, Wintertime

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?


  • starrlife

    Definitely true. I notice it most at night. I have many memories of walking down the road, headed home to supper, with the nosehairs freezing and the snow beneath my feet squeaking with that special almost below zero crunch. Smelling the snow…. Thanks Ellen.

  • library lady

    It was snowing when I left for work this morning at 6:30. I know it was snowing because the radio station told me it was. I couldn’t see it, and I certainly couldn’t smell it, but they assured me it was. Phooey! I want some snow I can see and smell and most of all, stay home from work and appreciate!

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    Wow, sorry to hear about the fender bender. I agree snow has a smell- expecially the yellow variety. Ok that was uncalled for.

    And ps- either
    A) You got abducted by aliens that limit your laptop useage
    B) You are really busy
    C) You are boycotting my blog.

    I hope it’s not C. But then again I hope it’s not A because that’s just scary. Is it B?

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    You were looking at the cake all wrong. Yes, there are feet, we re looking at a person bending over/forward. The actual balls are under the brown sprinkles. Ok, this post probably sounds crazy and terrible to everyone else viewing it! LOL

  • maddie

    In the city the other smells must cover it up I guess. I cannot get it. And when we go skiing it is never actually snowing. Does it smell more on the air then on the ground?

  • laurwilk

    I agree! I think it smells too. I love that smell though. I loved Vermont. You are lucky to be living in such a wonderful place!

    We were skiing Killington. We stayed in a town called Plymouth about 10 minutes away and rented the most adroable little farm house. We drank Prosecco from the top of a large hill (mountain?) at midnight all bundled up. It was cold but wonderful. I dreaded coming back to the city but once I got back, I was quite happy to be here!

    Thank you for the dream analysis. For some reason, I remember my dreams far more than most people. I remember at least one dream every single night. Sometimes they make me crazy, sometimes they make me happy, other times I’m a bit concerned about what could possibly be going on in this little head of mine!

    I actually stole the purple scarf from my mom, whoops! Her scarves are always nicer and more plush than my cheapos!

  • painted maypole

    glad you’re ok

  • Talent Recruitment

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