A memorable smell of fall

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I’ve used this space a number of times to talk of country smells, and during no time of the year are they more pronounced than fall.

The cooler temperatures and the freshness in the air in the fall accentuate the smell of falling leaves. It brings out the subtle odor emitted by that final grass cutting when the mower waste is at last drying, forecasting — at least for those of us with more “natural” yards — an end to mowing for the year. Burning leaves were once another familiar smell, though less often enjoyed today.

Thousands of smells, only some of them related to fall, trigger memories, and they are usually pleasant ones. We tend to catalogue them away in our minds for times when they’re needed, while discarding more unpleasant events from the past.

Here in Southeast Virginia, we have all but lost one smell that, more than any other, used to be fall’s signature. That’s the smell of freshly dug peanuts. It’s a unique and pleasant blend of freshly dug earth, decaying peanut vines and drying peanuts. Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never forget it.

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