In the Offseason: The nose knows
September 9, 2005
This week I had to ask people on the street if the sudden hike in gas prices was going to affect their offseason travel plans. Most people told me they weren’t planning on going anywhere this fall, since it’s their favorite season in Aspen.It’s mine, too. It’s when town is a bit emptier and the leaves change colors and drop, and I enjoy being forced to chose the nights I want to dedicate to Aspen Filmfest. I almost tear up for joy the first time I smell someone’s wood-burning stove crank up at the end of September.Smells and memories are linked, but don’t ask me to explain why. I Googled and found some scientific and not-so-scientific sites about this – look for yourself – but it’s got to be why a certain deodorant takes me right back to the gym locker room in seventh grade. I have a bunch of favorite smells in Aspen that are very specific, including exiting a certain stinky bar and being hit in the face with the most intoxicating aroma of cinnamon and fresh cookies at Paradise Bakery. And in the summer when the door to the J-Bar is left open, you can walk by and inhale fresh burgers and beer on tap mixed with whatever the seasoning is they sprinkle on fries.Ben & Jerry’s is going to be an odoriferous force to contend with, but it hasn’t been open long enough for me to notice yet.I asked a friend once what his favorite smell in Aspen was, and he said, “Four o’clock in the afternoon, on Mill Street near Piñon’s.” Whoa. When he finally asked a sous-chef at the pricey restaurant what the deal was with 4 p.m., it turns out they’re doing food prep at that time of day, which includes caramelizing onions.It’s enough to make you press your nose up to the crack in the front door.Maybe you’re not like this; maybe you’ve never given much thought about the smells – pleasant or not – that make our mountain town our own. But fall’s offseason is a good time of year to start thinking about it. Plus, I think it takes practice to truly be able to smell the first powder day of the year.