The Smells of New England
Freshly steamed lobster and butter. That bait results in the smell of a New England summer evening – something that has brought people to the coast for generations. The bib dangling from the neck, the little cups of melted butter, the sharp, startling smell of the meat coming away from the tail, as you hold it poised just an instant before biting.
Potato fields in Aroostook County, Maine. I picked potatoes with a few dozen schoolchildren in Aroostook many years ago. It was for one of my first stories for Yankee, and what I remember so well is the smell of the dirt: thousands of acres of dirt being dug up by all those eager hands, and the potatoes overflowing the baskets. It was simply the smell of land and heritage all wrapped in soil and spud.
Apple orchard. Think late September. A day of sun. Maybe 55 degrees. You’re reaching into a tree full of McIntoshes, and you pick the first one you’ve held this season. Bite. The crunch, the taste, and the smell all meld. Fall.
Balsam fir. Trees and wreaths piled high from the forests of Washington County, Maine. Your house is transformed. For a while you put aside the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas. For now, freshly cut balsam stands in your room, hangs by the door.
Those are my 10, for now. I also wanted to say summer hay, and November woodsmoke, not to mention the fried-clam shacks of the North Shore, sun lotion on the sands of Cape Cod… but I’ll hold off, mostly because I want to know which New England scents stay with you the most.