Wrapping up a neighborhood walk just a bit after 7 pm, I noticed that the air smelled somehow differently.  It smelled clean and maybe a bit damp.  This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed a literal change in the air.  Even if I couldn’t feel it on my skin, I could tell from the way it smelled that the temperatures were dropping.  Cooler temperatures reduce the concentration of volatile compounds and as a result, the night air smelled fresher.

Naturally occurring odors can tell us a lot.  For example, that zingy whiff of ozone may be signaling an approaching thunderstorm.  

Then there are the scents produced by other living entities.  Consider the honeysuckles,

Skunk
Image by Christel SAGNIEZ from Pixabay

the hay-scented ferns, the musky smell of a nearby skunk, and the sulfuric odor of a stagnant pond.  Scents in nature are all around us.  

For today’s challenge, talk a walk and compile a list of the scents that you notice.   You will need to be mindful and actively pay attention to what you are smelling.  Unless it is particularly strong, we often just ignore the odors around us.  

Consider the following:

      • Can you tell something about the weather from the way the air smells?
      • Where might a specific odor be coming from?  Plant, animal, ground, decay, water, other?
      • Is the odor sharp or mild? Sweet or sour? Floral or earthy?  Pleasant or unpleasant?  Other?

In the meantime, here are a few fun facts about scents in nature:

      • Leopard pee reportedly smells like buttered movie popcorn.  
      • The Australian Potato Bush (Solanum ellipticum) smells like baked potatoes.
      • For some people, the Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii) smells like peanut butter.

Now, follow your nose to new adventures in the great outdoors!

This challenge is rated as easy. 

Sources:

First two fun facts from – https://wildlifeact.com/blog/the-smells-of-nature/

More information about the peanut buttery toad — https://srelherp.uga.edu/anurans/scahol.htm

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