Now this isn’t just a random insult, it’s more an observation brought on by an article in yesterday’s New York Times. “Don’t turn up your nose at the city in the summer” is written by an academic from the University of Sheffield in the UK. Victoria Henshawe, who talks about the history of New York through smell in this article, conducts ‘smell walks’ of cities around the world. This may be a rather odd occupation, but I was taken by her article and carried out my own experiment earlier today.
I walked 6 blocks south and one avenue across and back another 6 streets to our apartment. I only breathed through my nose the whole way. This is hard. It is warm today, about 29 degrees, sunny with a bit of cloud with a reasonable breeze heading north up the avenues. This is what I found:
- heat has a smell but I can’t put my finger on it
- the obsession that some people have for hosing down the pavement in front of their buildings leaves an odd, damp smell, a bit like a damp dog
- and that when that water forms in pools and goes a bit stagnant, it smells rank in the heat
- rubbish bins smell horrible in the heat
- the wafts of deodorant and perfume from what seem to be freshly washed pedestrians aren’t too bad when carried on the wind
- blasts of diesel and other fuels from the constant traffic are horrible and unavoidable
- and pizza parlours smell lovely.
Summer in the city. And it’s only June.