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Old books, potting soil, lilies, baking bread (yes, even Wonder Bread), chocolate, coffee, on some pheromonal level your husband, the air before snow, rain on dusty ground, leather, cinnamon, oranges, Vitapointe (light and fresh), Maker’s Mark smells like work’s done for the day, but also reminds you of your elderly neighbor, which isn’t necessarily a fun memory (pouring her drink, making her snack, emptying her garbage into which she’d emptied her urinal), but the smell of the whiskey intrigued you, probably because it was so foreign to you, that and the tang of the house you remember, and then the tang of your house when you would come back, you suppose was the tang of shag carpets that never got quite clean. Was it distinct to the time (the carpets) or to Alaska? You’ve never smelled it anywhere else.

How does the air smell before snow—fresh, clean, crackling, like ice, like waiting, like anticipation, like a simpler time somewhere far away, like the croak of a raven and shoes crunching on snowpack like Styrofoam and crystals glistening underfoot when you walk, and maybe there’s a slight whiff of exhaust, maybe diesel, and low sky, clouds, overcast, and muffled sound and short days, and crisp long nights and shimmering stars when the snow is finally over.

Soil smells like something living, earthy, mineral, but also moist, a bit of mold, spores coating your nostrils, you know you should be wearing a mask, but this is the one kind of dirt you don’t mind digging your hands into, and you always think you’re just doing one thing, but you think as long as your hands are dirty, you might as well check on the other one too, and there’s a bigger pot right here, so why don’t you... You wonder if you do it partially so you can keep on smelling that smell.

And your mother’s room, an amalgamation of floral soaps and perfume samples, rose in general, but gentler. Potent but not stinging like rose-scented things can be. Rose was her middle name. And how glad you were to find her room still smelled that way in her final days, not a whiff of urine or bleach, even as she was dying. She smelled like Mom until the end.