Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The 'smell' of a story

I've been reading Anderson Cooper's book, Dispatches from the Edge, a Memoir of Wars, Disasters and Survival. Back in the day when he couldn't get a job as a journalist, he boarded a plane with a cheap camera and the guts to make a name for himself. Now, he is a widely recognizable correspondent for CNN. His memoir is interesting. He is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt. He reveals some interesting personal information about his family.

In one chapter he tells about filming horrific images and discusses the sights, sounds, smells and feel of war and hurricane zones. On his flight home, although he had showered and had clean clothes on, he kept smelling those 'images'. He thought he was hallucinating, and then he realized he was wearing the same shoes that had stepped in the mud and the blood. He claims that for him, "every story has a smell."

I like that description. Most of our 'life stories' have a smell too. So I jotted a few down. Since fall is in the air, I'll share this one. I remember being a little girl sitting on my grandparents' front steps watching Pappy burn the pile of leaves in the gutter that my cousin and I had just tromped and crunched through. Kids today wouldn't recognize that smell, but my frame of reference is a vivid sensory experience.

Crisp autumn wind snarks up my five year old nose, mingles with the smell of burning leaves and rushes to the pleasure center in my brain; the promise of Halloween and a sack of candy to last me until Christmas, a day away.

Think of any incident or time of your life and write a sentence or two using sensory detail and please SHARE. I will share more another time. Right now, it is off to work I go.


Karen Lange said...

Ah yes, what a good reminder of memories! I remember the scent of my grandfather's garage, grandma's molasses sugar cookies and so much more. The springtime air often has a scent that takes me back to grade school. Thanks for jogging my memory! I need to write some of these down.

Terri Tiffany said...

I love the smell of seasons:) There are definite ones to each:)

Susan said...

Hello Linda...I couldn't find an e-mail address for you. Just wanted to say thanks for always coming to visit my blog and for commenting. Always a pleasure to see you stopped by. That spider story creeped me out. I actually HATE spiders but think their webs are pretty fascinating. Take care. Susan

Tammy said...

When my children were little, we decided to plant a vegetable garden. I was just telling them that I'd never planted vegetables before. But when my hand brushed the leaves of a tomato plant, *POOF*, there was a forgotten memory of planting tomatoes with my grandfather. Have planted lots of tomatoes since then, and they always make me think of him!

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Susan,
My email is at the top of my blog in my intro. It's the very last thing.

Linda O'Connell said...

Yes tomatoes do 'poof' and I;ve always said they 'cry' before a rain. I can smell them so distinctly.

Linda O'Connell said...

Thanks for stopping in. Yes! The smell of grandpa's garage. Such great memory joggers.

Linda O'Connell said...

I love the smell of fall best of all. Thanks for visiting.

Gerry Mandel said...

You have mastered one of the basics of good writing: use the senses. You took me back (I have a long way to go) to those autumn smells. I took my Goldens for a hike yesterday at Weldon Springs State Park, a 2 mile jaunt each way, stopping at the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. A warm sun, a cool breeze, and just a hint of approaching autumn. Trail dust, dried leaves, a woodsy scent enveloping the landscape, and the distant sound of the Francis Howell school band practicing outside with the drums and brass rolling across the hills. How did I leap from high school to this trail so quickly?

Linda O'Connell said...

I like the "woodsy scent enveloping the landscape" and "trail dust." Francis Howell band, well that plunked me in the midst of noise and kids just when you had me chillin' you returned me to school.