- Jenn Schleich

We Go Way Back, Snow and Me

Check out my latest column in The Cliffhanger!

By Jennifer Schleich

“I close my eyes and breathe deeply; I smell snow. That magical, wonderful, cold smell that means winter is coming.

There are two scents which I find extremely attractive: the smell of fresh cut grass and the smell of snow. Throw out your cologne – who needs it? I’m literally smiling just thinking about it. It’s already snowed twice. I even saw some sticking to the ground briefly one morning. It might be too early for a blanket of snow but it’s coming. I know it and I can smell it in the air.

I know that look I get sometimes. You know that look right? The leery sideways glance that says this girl is crazy. But I’ll tell you I’m never wrong (at least in this aspect of my life). It’s a strange thing, half scent and half feeling. The scent: cold, but humid, and clean and fresh. The feeling: a shiver. Maybe that part is a brisk north wind. To me the smell of imminent snowfall is completely natural. It’s mind boggling that some have never experienced it.

Johan Lundström is a smell and taste researcher in Philadelphia. He says you can’t smell snow. I say phooey to him. He argues the mucus layer in our smell receptors dries up during the winter, but loosens when humidity rises, such as right before a snow storm. According to Mr. Johan Lundström, if you are outside during this transition your sense of smell literally becomes more acute. He says over time some people have associated this change with oncoming snow. Johan Lundström likes to take the magic out of life.

The latent scientist in me is fascinated, but my imagination is disgruntled. I like to think my new acute sense of smell during changing weather gives me the “power” to experience the subtle smell of snow.

I’m sure I can smell snow. Is that crazy?

Just think about snow.

But don’t get carried away. Don’t think about February and eight foot snow banks, because that’s depressing. Think about November, December, the first snow flakes, the Christmas lights, the glitz and glam. Think about how freshly fallen snow glitters on the ground. Think about fur coats and wool scarves and the smell of cinnamon, pine needles and wood smoke. Think about little children rushing outside in their shiny snow gear to build a shiny snow family. Think about sleigh rides and jingle bells. Think about the crystalline geometric patterns of frost climbing up the windowpanes but don’t think about your energy bill if you have frost climbing up your windowpanes.

That’s how I feel when I smell snow. There’s nothing crazy about that.”

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