What Does Sunshine Smell Like?

I was sitting in my back yard watching my dogs contentedly basking in the sun. Every once in a while, one of them would raise his head, squint directly into the sun and sniff the gentle breeze. Then he’d drift back to sleep. This is the life.

I have no doubt that there are plenty of sniffs to sniff, especially when the wind is blowing, but it really did look as if they were both inhaling the sunshine and enjoying every minute of it. That made me remember a story about some scientists who were studying a dust cloud in outer space and discovered that it contained the same chemical that gives raspberries their flavor. If there can be raspberry flavored dust clouds in space (a thought that makes me very happy), it makes me wonder if sunshine has a smell.

Fire has a smell. Things that are heated up change their smell. The air after a lightning strike smells of ozone. Sweat certainly smells. What does sunshine smell like? Sometimes I wish my dogs could talk.

Since my boys choose to keep their own counsel, I’ll content myself with imagining that sunshine smells like lemons and suntan lotion and salt water and mesquite bar-b-cue. Yeah. That’s what the sun smells like to me.

Lemon sunshine

30 thoughts on “What Does Sunshine Smell Like?

  1. One thing most people don’t know about me is that I was born without a sense of smell. So the whole concept is very mysterious to me. I often feel like other people have super powers that I missed out on. Even the people that do know I don’t have a sense of smell don’t ever explain what scents are like. But your post gave me a clue. And the next time someone asks me – “What’s that smell?” I might just reply “it smells like sunshine and space dust to me!”

      1. I think I’m in about 1% of the population (unfortunately, not THAT 1%…) There’s another 1% who used to be able to smell and then lost the ability. So, probably not wide appeal. But, thanks!

      2. I don’t really taste food, but again, since this has always been my reality, I don’t know any difference. I’ve heard that people who lose their sense of smell become depressed because they lose so much. I can detect sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. The appeal of some popular food is lost on me – for example, eating popcorn is like eating styrofoam packing peanuts. Mostly I eat for texture – warm & chewy or cool & crunchy are my favorites – ha!

      3. I think I would too if I had ever tasted differently. But since this is how food has always been, I’ve developed my own version of “comfort food”. I wonder sometimes if I ever did become able to smell whether the world (and food) would all become too intense and overwhelming. I’m too used to living inside of a documentary about life – sights and sounds but no smells.

      4. There are quite a few smells that you wouldn’t like at all, trust me. And you don’t get to control which smells you are confronted with most of the time, which can be problematic. As long as you’re happy, you’re fine.

      5. LOL. When my stepson was about 9 or 10 he used to tell me that “I was better off because there are more bad smells in the world than good ones and the ones that are bad are so bad that the good ones can’t make up for them”. I was touched and charmed by the fact that he wanted to comfort me (though I never needed comfort since it’s harder to miss what you never had).
        I usually tell people early on that I can’t smell and give them a free pass to let me know if my home smells like dog or my refrigerator smells like mold (these are smells I have memorized and filed under “bad” – I don’t really know what my home or fridge smell like). I tell them because people get all kinds of embarrassed about telling you that something smells yet in my case it would be the kindest thing.
        But in general, even though I tell them, people forget most of the time and then quite regularly stick things in my face with a request to “smell this”. I then have to decide whether to feign an appropriate facial expression and verbal reaction or to gently remind them that I can’t smell. Occasionally I take some middle ground and just claim to have a cold.

      6. Oh yeah. I’ve done that lots. That’s part of the “super powers” that other people have. Luckily none of my “experiences” have landed me in a hospital.

        I’ve also been in a house with a gas leak and one that was literally on fire. Sometimes ignorance is not bliss.

        I think that’s why it is such a rare trait – evolutionarily speaking, you’re not going to last very long.

        It actually is an important sense but it doesn’t get taken very seriously. And to be honest, it is much easier to adapt to than the loss of other senses.

        There should just be a book or a training manual or something to help you understand the world as others experience it. Even a list of “bad” smells would help. I was in my twenties before I discovered that old fruit smelled bad (I just assumed it smelled more fruity…or less fruity.. but not bad). And I was in my forties before I discovered that literally Everything! has a smell. I just thought it was the things that people mention all of the time – onion, garlic, diapers, rotten eggs, and flowers, citrus, and perfume. (hmmm…I just realized that I get most of my odor information from TV commercials!)
        Anyway I was floored by the idea that everything had a scent all of the time! I ran around the kitchen (like Helen Keller after learning the word for water!) and grabbed everything asking my husband – so this has a smell? and this? and this?
        Mind. Blown.

      7. Don’t let your mind get overly blown. Yes, everything has a smell, but most smells are very subtle and easy to ignore. Food, flowers, body odor and things rotting are the most obvious. That’s scary about the gas leak and the fire, though.

      8. I wonder too about my access to memories as apparently that’s supposed to be a key trigger.

        The gas leak and fire were scary at the time but they were when I was a kid. There are smoke detectors now so I don’t worry.

        (Thanks for the list of the ‘top 4’ btw – I’ll keep those in mind).

        Oh but here’s one of my secret fantasies (that I’m now posting to a public forum!).

        I know I could never be a detective because I can’t smell, but y’know in TV shows how they always make fun of the rookie the first time they have to attend an autopsy because the smell is so bad and invariably the new guy runs out and pukes?

        I have this fantasy of being in my first autopsy and all of the more experienced guys watching, waiting for me to turn green, and I just stand there stoic and unaffected, and then they’d whisper among themselves about what a badass I am because I didn’t even blink. Respect!

        (yea it’s lame, but seriously, how many not-smelling-is-an-advantage fantasies can there be?)

      9. it is an advantage when changing diapers or cleaning out a litter box – that’s about as close to those other two jobs as I’ll get…

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