There was an article in the Boston Globe this week about a young woman who lost her sense of smell in a bike accident. An aspiring chef, she was affected by this loss in ways unexpected and profound. She said she felt less present to her life when she couldn’t smell.

Walking down the streets of New York, “I could be lost in my head and avoid people. But when my sense of smell came back, every person had a smell – the taxis had a smell, the candied nuts, hot dogs, pretzels…,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much I could not think about it if I didn’t have that cue.”

I have a normal sense of smell, and I’m still capable of being lost in my head a high percentage of the time. It’s why I practice meditation – to train myself to be more present. I was intrigued by the suggestion that my sense of smell could help me stay more firmly anchored in the world.

So the other morning, as I was walking through Barnstable Village on my way home, I decided to pay attention to the way the world smelled. It was warm, sunny, and slightly humid, the kind of air that brings out scents. On my half-mile stroll, here’s what I encounted:

The Tide-y scent of laundry…then diesel exhaust, which always makes me feel like I’m in Paris…a cloud of sweetness from some unseen flowers…something unidentifiable and green…a bacony whiff of breakfast cooking (I was nearing the Village Landing)…more floral sweetness…coffee roasting (Nirvana Coffee Shop)…more sweetness…a woodsy, leaf-decay scent as I passed beyond the village center.

And finally, approaching my house, I walked into the sweet soapy smell it emanates, because of the soap business in the barn. Neighbors have commented on how nice it is to walk past our house, but I never really paid attention to it before.

It was a lovely walk. Check it out…what does your world smell like?