Smell the difference

I splurged and got a massage today. It was glorious. I highly recommend it. The experience even inspired my column topic this week.

I was relaxing on the massage table, all comfy in the soft mattress and getting sleepier by the minute with the soothing music and aromatherapy oils. Then my brain sparked for a moment as I thought how much of a difference it makes when the aromas around us are pleasant.

There has been much talk of smells lately, and so I’m going to jump in on the discussion. Follow your nose and join me.

Have you heard of Uncle Fester? I don’t mean the character in The Adams Family, but rather a namesake – a flower at Vancouver’s Bloedel Conservatory with rather a unique odour.

Commonly called the corpse flower, this giant Sumatran blossom is a rare spectacle. It is impressive in its size, and also in its aroma, more often described as a stench. Since it only blooms once every few years, I suppose one can endure the nauseating smell for the sake of the visual experience.

The smoke from forest fires is definitely not in the “pleasant” category, either. There is the basic smokiness you recognize from chimneys or campfires, but in a pervasive way that makes it annoying.

When the smoke gets thicker and the skies take on that yellow/brown tinge, there is an acridity to it that makes my nose sting and my eyes water. And when it is close enough to smell like fire and not just smoke, well that is frightening.

We have had plenty of smoke this year, across the province and throughout the world, too. My heart aches for those who have suffered personally with all the fires, and it swells with gratitude for all the firefighters and the volunteers who have come out to help. I hope they can all find a smell that helps them get back to something happier and more pleasant.

Living under smoky skies here in the Okanagan for the last few weeks has made me very conscious of how grateful I am for the usual clear air and many beautiful smells in my gardens. They say that your olfactory system focuses on new smells to avoid being overwhelmed; that is why we generally stop noticing pervasive aromas. The smoke in the air has many nuances, so I haven’t stopped noticing it, unfortunately.

I have decided that overcoming the pervasiveness of unattractive smells takes the same determination and positivity to beat as all the other pervasive negative elements out there these days. Pardon me if I sound corny or idealistic, but this stuff really does work.

My mom always says it's important to stop and smell the flowers. That is even more true when you’re walking through other distractions. It doesn’t hurt to pick a few blossoms and hold them under your nose to reinforce the good feeling. Maybe you even want to pass them on to someone else for further enjoyment.

All the way back to the sixteenth century, people have carried small bouquets of sweet-scented flowers to keep them smiling. Back then, they had open sewers in some places, plagues and other diseases. The aromatic oils of some flowers were thought to have a disinfectant quality as well as being uplifting.

Not surprisingly, the bouquets were called “nosegays.” They became a fashion statement and were popular as a gift, with the symbolism of the flowers adding meaning. Don’t they sound like a good thing to bring back into style?

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in the garden, amongst the blossoms.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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