A few years ago a new Soft Surroundings catalog introduced a new scent, “L”. I love sampling scents and I’ve really liked some of theirs, so I rubbed the back of my hand and inhaled. The main scent I caught seemed so odd, I grabbed the catalog to read the list of included scents. Nope, I called it. Tobacco.
I loved the whole scent, so I bought a “rollerball”. At first when I wore it and caught whiffs of the tobacco, I’d remember back to my dad’s pipe-smoking days and how much I liked the scent of tobacco when he opened a pouch and got ready to fill his pipe. Not the smell of smoke after he lit it, the scent of the tobacco.
Recently I realized, though, there’s a deeper memory associated with the perfume. Lexington used to have lots of tobacco barns where they dried tobacco. When you drove past certain parts of town, the sweet smell of drying leaves wafted through the air. During my summer visits, we’d pass through areas where the aroma filled the air and I loved every breath.
If you’ve never been in tobacco country and the only smell you associate is the smell of cigarette or cigar smoke, you probably can’t imagine the lovely, sweet smell of drying tobacco. For many reasons, it isn’t a scent I ever catch in the breeze here now.
Lexington has changed from a small, sweet, mostly-Southern city to a mid-size metropolis in which the charm and gentle nature it once held are largely lost. Sometimes in the historic center, where my aunt and grandmother lived for many years, or in a ride out country roads where much remains the same, I catch the feeling I loved when I spent my childhood summers here.
I try to live in the now, but I have my moments of nostalgia or longing for lost places of childhood. Mostly it’s gone, that Lexington I adored. And I miss the sweet tobacco scent on the wind. But some days, when I dot some “L” on my wrists, the tobacco barns are still there, the leaves drying sweetly.