Sensing the Seasons by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1When my daughter was young, she teased me when I’d say that something tasted like fall or smelled like spring. She emphatically stated that seasons did not have smells or taste. However, when she was about 12 years old she said, “It smells like spring!” With that, I knew I had won this discussion.

I grew up on a farm in Michigan, near the shores of Lake Michigan, in the heart of the fruit belt. Because of this, many of the scents and tastes of the seasons are tied to childhood memories of this time and place. Although some of my seasonal triggers have changed now that I’ve lived in Georgia for over 15 years, these connections to my past still resonate in my soul.

Spring smells of flowers and freshly turned soil waiting to receive seeds. It also smells of the vinegar used to make dye for coloring Easter eggs and of gentle rain soaking into the earth. For me, spring tastes like fresh picked strawberries, preferably 051111082-01-strawberry-shortcake-recipe_xlgcombined with home-made strawberry shortcake. My mother used a slightly sweet biscuit recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, and so do I, and now spring also tastes like this for Willow and Mike. New potatoes and fresh asparagus are also wonderful flavors of spring as are the pudding-filled cupcakes my siblings and I made with our aunt on Valentine’s Day, which could be either spring or winter depending on the weather that year.

Fresh-mowed grass is the strongest of my summer scent memories, quickly followed by wet bathing suits, and the dry, dusty smell of the air in late August. There is also the wet, heavy scent of a coming thunderstorm and the steamy air washed clean from the rain that follows in its wake. One of my favorite smells of raspberrypiesummer is the sheets that have been dried on the clothesline in the hot sun. Summer tastes of homemade raspberry pie, not the baked ones that many people make, by one with a baked crust filled with fresh berries and covered in a homemade glaze that sets when it chilled. Summer also tastes of buttered corn on the cob, boiled just minutes after it is brought in from the fields. The ears are so hot that you need cob holders to hold it and each piece bursts into your mouth as you bite into it. Fresh-made corn dogs from the Band Boosters booth at the Berrien County Youth Fair is another favorite taste memory of summer days of long ago.

Autumn smells of air as crisp as the ripened apples being picked in the orchards. There were many vineyards in our area and to this day the smell of grape juice brings back memories of riding my bike past the grapes hanging heavy on their vines. Autumn also smells of hayrides and bonfires, and the undefinable but specific smell of dried leaves covering the ground. 1-Graciano-grapes-on-the-vineApple pie is a big taste of fall and when I was younger we often served it with a slice of cheddar cheese. My maternal grandmother had been born in England but raised in Chicago and brought this tradition with her. She had a saying, “Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” Our church’s annual fundraiser, a chicken pie supper, held several wonderful tastes of autumn. Fall also tastes of stews and soups, as well as the classics of turkey, potatoes, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce.

Winter brings the subtle, slightly metallic smell of drifting snow as well as wood burning in the fireplace and wet mittens drying on a rack. There is the aroma of cookies made with butter baking in the oven and the scent of the freshly cut pine tree mittensstanding in the living room. Winter tastes of hearty foods meant to warm the body and soul. It tastes of roast beef and Christmas cookies, treats only enjoyed once a year. It also tastes of homemade bread slathered in butter, the first loaf cut into thick slabs because we can’t wait until it is cool enough to slice into reasonable portions.

Some of these scents and tastes are of my past, but I have carried as many as possible into my present. Willow will have her own sensory memories of her childhood but I am delighted to know that I have successfully imprinted at least a few of my own onto her.

For me, each season has its own smells and tastes. What do they smell and taste like to you?

You can learn more about me at:

Erin Farwell

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22 Responses to Sensing the Seasons by Erin Farwell

  1. Joe Stephens says:

    You mentioned several things that are familiar smells and tastes to me. One that you didn’t mention that, though it can be eaten anytime, I associate with that first cold snap of fall is the smell of a big pot of spicy chili on the stove. There’s no taste quite like dipping your peanut butter sandwich into that steaming bowl.

    And though I love it all the time and am, in one way, glad it has become common throughout the year, one thing I miss is the specialness (is that a word?) of the mouth-watering aroma of the turkey roasting on Thanksgiving. When I was young, we literally only had it at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. erinfarwell says:

    You’re right, Joe. Chili and cold weather definitely go together. My husband, though, is a year-round chili guy so I guess I stopped associating it with the fall. We also only have turkey at Thanksgiving. Growing up we had it at Christmas as well until after my parent’s divorce. Then we returned to my mother’s tradition of an English roast beef dinner.

    Thanks for reminding me of the chili and thank you so much for your comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wranglers says:

    You made my nose twitch and my mouth water. The smell and taste of a vine ripened tomato, green onions, and corn on the cob. My very favorite, and they mean summer. Winter is the feel, and marvel of snow on my tongue and snow ice. I love to go sledding, and I’m sure I will miss winter. I’m thinking winter in Florida will have it’s own smells and feels. Just a few of my Favorite things. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Doris says:

    Having grown up in the mid-west area, I can say you captured the smell of the seasons perfectly for me. In the high desert, those smells are the sweet memories I have. Here it’s dust, rain, wind and snow. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    • erinfarwell says:

      Thanks, Doris. My grandparents used to live in Estes Park, CO and every once in a while I get a whiff of dust and pine which immediately makes me think of hiking with my grandfather in the Rockies. It’s amazing what smells can make you remember.

      Like

  5. Pingback: Sensing the Seasons by Erin Farwell | erinfarwell

  6. Neva Bodin says:

    I just finished supper and now you have me hungry all over again! You did capture the smells and tastes of the seasons very well. I, too, associate smells and tastes with the seasons. Growing up on a farm, the smells were much more intense with the changes in the landscape and animals and crops we grew. I think of outdoor smells mostly, moist earth that just melted the last snowflake, hay, alfalfa and ripe wheat fields. We too had turkey only at Thanksgiving, ham at Easter and Lutefisk at Christmas. For those of you who know what that is–it certainly has its own unique smell. But pair it with melted butter, rich Romegrate pudding and Swedish meatballs, and well, now I’m really hungry. Thanks for the scentsy trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • erinfarwell says:

      Thanks, Neva. I’ve always had a strong sense of smell and taste so the seasons are about those things as well as the weather, activities, and holidays. Thanks for sharing yours!

      Like

  7. Mike Staton says:

    I could identify with those smells. I can remember rolling in piles of raked leaves in the fall, all the while taking in that smell of fallen leaves. When you mentioned the Betty Crocker cookbook, it made me think of my mom and her cookbook. She also had pages of handwritten recipes from my grandmother and my Aunt Ethel. As a young teenager, I’d step from the Wadsworth, Ohio, house and wade through thigh-high snow to the school bus on a super-cold morning, so cold it seemed to suck my breath right out of me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sstamm625 says:

    The smell of cut grass and freshly mown hay for summer–though today I was struck by the earthy smell as the rain soaked the ground. I love that smell! Corn and strawberries and tomatoes are the favorite summer tastes. Yum!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Travis says:

    Great descriptions, Erin. Unfortunately my sense of smell isn’t the strongest, but I enjoy the smell of a summer rain, especially when it first falls. Fall (in Oklahoma) had leaves turning and falling with a sweetish smell of decay. Winter had smoke from chimneys or damp clothes from the snow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • erinfarwell says:

      Hi Travis – you’re right about the smell of smoke from chimneys. Now that I live in Georgia, spring also smells like grills being fired up for the first time for the season. I think everyone in the neighborhood grills on the same day each spring. 🙂

      Like

  10. Nancy Jardine says:

    Brilliant smell memories, Erin. I can identify with some but my seasonal time is different for new potatoes and loads of other things- if they actually ripen enough to eat! My son-in-law loves a bit of cheddar cheese with warm apple pie and he is the first person I’ve ever known to do that. He claims it is a north-east Scottish tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. S. J. Brown says:

    Wonderful post. It brought back a lot of memories. I had never thought about the seasons each having their own smells, but you are right they definitely do. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. wyoauthor1 says:

    Lovely post, Erin! I completely agree with you — seasons aren’t just observable, they are sensory-inclusive! I think living with a blind dog for more than 10 years attuned me to using more of my own other senses, such as hearing and smell. Each season is unique in all aspects, including smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Very beautiful, and I’m glad your daughter is tuning into more of her senses regarding nature as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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