A potpourri of smells and scents characterise the identity of every season, derived of course from the very essence of nature in which they stem. The glory of these seasonal sensations are each remarkable in their own special way settling upon the essential simplisticness of the human soul an inexplicable emotion that is regarded in special affection. Spring for instance is redolent with the fragrance of blooms even as monsoons of course are heralded in by their own symphonious resonance of some petrichor poesy. And yet there’s still something specially stirring about the many smells in which the days of autumn descends upon our existence, accompanied by a myriad of emotions wafting through each of its characteristic expression.
The pleasantness of autumn is but a musing upon its many strands of smells and sights weaved into a canvas of misty scents and some wistful melancholy. In this season of nostalgia brimming with the joys of life as well weighing heavy in the sadness of its losing is interlaced an entire universe of specific aromas. From the contemporary whiffs of pumpkin spice and hot chocolate to the more traditional deliciousness of apple pies and warm cinnamons, the air is replete indeed with the gorgeous, gorgeous flavors of the world. But no matter how much we fancy these olfactory elements of fall, our souls are still particularly aroused by another set of expressions that speak of autumn being finally and definitely in the air.
And we are not exalting yet the effect that the emotions of autumn bring unto our being. What we continue to be swayed by is still essentially physical and as prominent but lingering in a way that softly speaks to us a language of some mellifluous magic. The more ingrained nature of this season identified in its rustle of the fallen leaves and the crispness of its air emanates also their own air of peculiar pride. And unlike the cooked and created contours of the culinary, these naturally emergent scents of autumn are infused as well in a more scientific significance which makes them therefore quite surprising and interesting to soak up as the true flavors of the season.
What’s intriguing here is that these smells and experiences that we so savour as soulful sensations of pleasantness and warmth and comfort are actually derived from some of the essential but not so aesthetic mechanisms of functioning of the natural world. From the pretty basic life requirements of making their own food to more complex iterations in which the natural world asserts its prominence as magical, autumn is seeped indeed in the true essence of this miraculous entity through which it and everything else assumes their individual character.
What plays out then is that as the quintessential, most distinctive and discrete smells of autumn, irrespective of whether or not there would be a Starbucks’ offering its signature PSL or a Halloween indulgence in the game of apple bobbing, these curiously intoxicating breathes of nature will still permeate the air with its own misty aura. And it is indeed through these truer, realer smells of the season that there would also be reinstated and relayed the naturalness of our being. These associations of the wet and the damp, the musky and the earthy, even the decaying and the dying that are elementary to autumn and still manage to be appealing to us only underlines the ‘raw’ yearnings we harbour. No matter how sophisticated or contemporary, or how urbane and unrustic we might be, it’s always a return to the roots that evokes the most sublime emotions and impresses as the most indelible experiences upon our being.
But before we pore over the nuances of how these smells come to be, it would do us well to be assured that our noses do not really overromanticise fall for its scents. Like we said every season has its own smell as a specific discerning identity indeed of their being but it’s still autumn that shines out in a peculiarity of some subtle extravagance. So pronounced are the nostalgic musings upon autumn that one would not ever miss out on its homecoming even when they might not be particularly awaiting that expression. This is due to a more ‘resilient’ shift in the atmospheric conditions that the coolness of autumn is a natural usherer of.
Like the air being quieter, it also is pronouncedly uncluttered in what it carries through its trove of the tantalisers. This makes even relatively ‘small’ scents strike as crisper, more emphatic sensations that are not overpowered or obscured by the other elements pervading the environment. Then there of course are the many activities partaken of as autumnal rituals and traditions and practises that only enhances the awareness of the smells. All in all then, autumn happens to be so ambrosially arousing due to the very period and nature of its descriptive occurrence.
The coast is now clear for us to settle upon the exact smells of autumn in their wheres and not the whys and hows. The most characteristic feature of fallen leaves that lend the season its name is a very obvious source to which this titillating of the senses can be attributed. Leaves that fall to the ground begin to decay and decompose after some time, releasing their sugars as those sweet smells. There also is a breakdown of the organic compounds present in them which also diffuses into the atmosphere rendering it further smelly.
Come to think of it and the scents of autumn are usually a lot more complex and volatile in character if one goes by their classification in terms of nature. The essential elaborateness of this happening however is only part of the narrative. These smells go on to interact with quite some variants of nitrous oxide to produce one type of smell that might strike as being dusty. Still other assertions would follow, some as mushroomy reeks, others as the very exclusive caramel undertones of a certain katsura native to Japan.
It then is everything from fungal feasts and bacterial activity to temperature shifts and even pollutants rising up that largely account for the phenomenal expression that autumn scents are. Evident it is then there is no any romanticism anywhere associated in such happenings, so loved and exalted and obsessed over that has curated an entire market and business out of that no holds barred exposition of it ‘smelling like fall’.
Contrast these with the more deliberate, even when very appropriate conjurings of the whiffs concocted up in a certain pumpkin spiced identity or a nostalgia laden batch of apple pies baking and the romance of autumn feels more real. But that only is an extension of what autumn does as part of its skillful repertoire in enticing entire existences with an offering of the opposites- albeit apposite in their occurring.
In every figment of imagination through which autumn dresses up in multihued beauty, the decked up in prettiness of its every naked branch, the finery on show in its fiesty colors even when they are now fallen and grounded, and definitely the smells of life itself that hinges upon its lifelessness, that leaves an entire species of us in bated breath in anticipation of finally breathing in that heavenly breath of a perfumery unlike no other- every single awareness that autumn comes alive in is but a corroboration of its own oxymoronic existence. Even in its romanticised nature and an exact contrast of scientific revelation is this diffidence in not adhering to one set construct as effortlessly upheld- indeed in all dignity. The magic in the mellow musings of this season of change that is more subtle than stark but that which brilliantly plays out as vivid as any other is what makes autumn the most enigmatic of them all. It is in these murky musky measures of an inevitable falling that one discerns smells and scents and therefore emotions and expressions embodying every experience of life. No wonder fall does that funny fuzzy thing to us when we finally come to embrace life the way we are expected to.