I’ve recently updated you on my diminishing hearing capabilities (with grasshoppers joining the list of disappearing sounds) and not too long ago I confessed that my sight is somewhat compromised in low light. But what about a sense that I possess which still seems to be functioning as it should? Step forward smell!

In fact, my sense of smell is famous throughout the family for being hyper-sensitive. I can pick up on odours (good and bad) way before anybody else, and if you give me a glass of wine or a single-malt whisky I will be dismantling the bouquet into its constituent parts - plums, liquorice, tarmac, apricots, toffee - within seconds. Needless to say from that last sentence, my accompanying taste buds are more than up to scratch as well.

One of life’s pleasures is to take the time to sniff the wildflowers. There are some top smells to be had, small free hits of olfactory wonder. Never walk past Fennel without taking in the aniseed; various labiates that will sooth you with mint, lemon and various herbs; Tansy is another, and that will have the additional effect of making you salivate with its hits of rosemary and accompanying roast dinners. Most plants are worth a sniff and a foliage squeeze. I don’t do it enough, especially since it is the one sense that I am doubly blessed with.

But beware! Some plants are not your friend! Crush Black Horehound and your fingers with smell of a rancid bonfire. Other plants are poisonous or will cause blistering of the skin. You have been warned!


Gibster said…
I once convinced a gullible chap that Hedge Woundwort had a delicate bouquet and to take a huge great sniff. Bless him, he almost fell over gagging. Stinking Goosefoot (and some Sticta lichens) have a horribly strong fishy smell, maybe to stop grazing? For me, Ramsons and Water Mint are just heavenly, Fennel is foul and the first time I tried sniffing the coconut scented flowers of gorse, a bee flew out and made me jump. Smell doesn't help much with birdwatching though.
Steve Gale said…
No Seth, Fennel is heavenly, not foul...
Hello Steve,
I dread losing any of my hearing as I rely so much on it, as every birder does of course, but it also keeps the wolf from the door through bird surveys I do for Ecological consultancies. I can still hear all the high stuff thankfully, Tree Pipit, Goldcrest etc and long may it remain so!
However, pre-C19 when we used to go to gigs I started using ear plugs. Not for my fortnightly visits to the folk club, but when seeing loud hairy arsed bands such as Iron Maiden!
Cheers, Seumus

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