Inhale and Take a Deep Breath


Summer’s coming – officially this Friday, June 21 – and I await the seasonal aromas. I don’t look forward to the heat and humidity, but I love the smell of the salty bay and ocean. It’s not as noticeable in the winter.

When it’s sunny and tourists arrive on Long Beach Island, I work in the garden and enjoy the scent of loam and potting soil. The pleasant aroma of mint overtakes my herbal bed as I weed. The fragrance of basil and the heady odor of my tomato plants give me great joy. I dream of eating my first tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper. That, too, is its own special treat. I even sniff the tomatoes I buy in the market to see if they’re home grown. The nose knows.

The smells at the beach are also special – some of them wonderful, some not so much. I hate the odor of cigarettes although it’s rare now to see people lighting up near the ocean. Another odor on the Island is low tide on the bay or ocean. It’s a musty scent and hard to describe, but not really unpleasant. It reminds me of all the wildlife living in the water. Breathe deeply and you can smell clams and fish mixed with seaweed. It’s a great time to go shell collecting.

Contrast cigarette smoke with another aroma on the beach. Coconut oil or any suntan lotion is a real turn-on for me. Its fragrance spells summer like nothing else. I love it when my grandchildren come and lather up on my front porch. When we return, I can smell the baby powder we use to get the sand off our feet. I taught them that trick and always hand out a small container to use. After an outside shower, I relish the smell of shampoo and the Irish Spring soap I keep in there.

My sense of smell lights up when I cook or go to restaurants. Even walking by a coffee shop or a bakery is heaven to me. Is there anything like the yeasty scent of fresh baked bread? Maybe a close second would be warm apple pie or chocolate chip cookies. The scent of cinnamon buns is probably addictive. Those Yankee Candle people know what they are doing. I’m also a sucker for a pizza parlor and an Italian restaurant. There’s something about garlic. Certain aromas just can’t be contained, and I start to salivate.

Warm weather finds me dragging out my bicycle stored in the garage. Usually I ride early in the morning or later in the day when it’s cool. I relish the smell of bacon frying. It seems to waft through the air. Passing the doughnut shops, some with lines outside, is a temptation. I savor the greasy, sweet smell of the warm dough. Sometimes I succumb and stop to buy a bag of the warm doughnuts sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s vacation time, after all. The bakery isn’t open in the winter.

Late afternoon has its own special essence. It’s grilling time and there’s nothing like a swim at the Jersey Shore to spark your appetite. Hamburgers hit the charcoal all over LBI, and the aromas travel like the wind. I inhale deeply and smell onions and peppers sizzling.

My neighbor’s grill is near my deck. I can’t see it, but the charred meat on the barbecue permeates the air. I try to decide if it’s chicken, pork or beef. All of them are savory to me, although I’m having a meatless supper that night. I decide to postpone dinner for a while and make microwave popcorn. The tangy odor of popped corn lingers in my kitchen, so I move to the deck. It’s time for the daily ritual I enjoy every night on the Island – a redolent and delicious glass of red wine.

Cheers, and here’s to your proboscis!

Kathleen Donnelly lives in Beach Haven Terrace.



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