In Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman sang of the varied splendors of the American smellscape. Not for him the “conceits of the poets” from other lands, nor “perfume of foreign court or indoor library.”
But an odor I’d bring as from forests of pine in Maine, or breathRegional smellscapes—for better or worse—are part of our heritage. They ground us and give us a sense of place. I think we should pay more attention to them.
of an Illinois prairie,
With open airs of Virginia or Georgia or Tennessee, or from Texas
uplands, or Florida’s glades . . .
Sarah Moore, the science and environment reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise, tracks down the sulphurous smells that characterize Southeast Texas. Best guess: reduced sulfur compounds that arise from the refineries, petrochemical plants and paper mills in the region. On the bright side: an older resident confirms by nose that industry emissions are noticeably less than they used to be.