Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Day 1 ~ One Year, One Nose


Cold.

I felt it appropriate to outline this 'scent' first since I smell it every morning on the way to work (riding a bicycle 1 mile), and because cold isn't only a scent, it is also a sensation. It is tingly. It burns. It fills your head with its sharp-edged metallic odor and covers your body in gooseflesh, reddening those areas which are not protected by clothing.

Cold smells the way it does because of how the ions in the scent molecules in the air behave at low temperatures, something about negative and positive charges and warm people skin resulting in that weird metallic smell we often associate with cold. I won't even pretend to understand it. In my neck of the woods, cold smells like warm corn tortillas, perhaps a result of those oppositely charged ions clinging to the warm air close to my body as I race past the taqueria. This smell, along with the metallic scent, persist so long as the temperature is around freezing, but once I ride into the sunlight and feel the warm rays, the smell of cold dissipates, however briefly, and I smell other things -- cooking smells, car exhaust, wet fallen leaves, dust. The scent of warm is obviously more diverse than the scent of cold.

Breathing in the scent of cold has its drawbacks -- runny nose, frozen nose, numb nose.

The scent of cold can be edgy and dull at the same time. It is unconventional as a subject of scent and I find myself going back to how cold feels, so it is better to smell cold in its element ~ the freezer. Ice vapors that roll out of a refrigerator freezer when opened to a warm room are piercingly metallic, as is the scent of the solidly frozen dry ice in the ice tray. Once cold hits that magical number that turns it warmer, it loses the metallic sharpness and picks up the scent of whatever is nearest.

Cold smells of vigilance and struggle and purity with a price.

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