Sunday, 13 September 2009

The scent of home

I read the other day that University of Queensland researchers have isolated and identified the substances in cut grass. Apparently these chemicals promote a sense of well-being and relieve stress. They have been packaged as a room spray and are being marketed as Serenascent.

I am curious as to their efficacy. As someone to whom cut grass usually merely provokes vigorous sneezing and sniffling, I’m not keen to spray the scent around my house. On the other hand, one of my favourite smells in the world is the smell of long dry grass that has baked in the sun all day slowly cooling in the evening. And I am feeling stressed.
Coming home on Friday night after a long week, I had all the windows in the car open. It’s spring so we’re having warm days and cool nights. It was a strange experience. I felt like I was dipping in and out of a river. One moment the air was cold and smelt clean and damp. The next, it was warm and oozing the essence of dried grass. My shoulders relaxed, my eyebrows went down, my lungs expanded. The first stars came out, the hills breathed with me. I remembered the word “gloaming” which is the time between sunset and darkness.* I rolled the word around my mouth. Gloaming…it just sounded right. That’s the smell I would bottle: dry grass, cool night, first starlight, gloaming. 

* Middle English (Scots) gloming, from Old English glōming, from glōm twilight; akin to Old English glōwan to glow. Date: before 12th century. Thanks Merriam-Webster online.

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