My kitchen smells the way it should, like turkey soup. I catch a whiff as I walk through the room, and I give the pot a stir. Mmmm.

I pick up an armful of clean laundry to take upstairs and my nose finds its ancient perfume. How many mothers have inhaled that sweet scent through all these thousands of years?

I walk into my room and I’m struck by the freshly baked bread smell that lingers there. The bread I mixed and panned and cooked hours ago. How has its aroma made its way upstairs to my room, and why is this the only place I can still smell this smell? The spirit of bread already in the freezer, or in the bellies of my boys.

I’ve noticed this before. The way smells wander around my house. Some of them stay where they should – in the soup pot or the clothes basket. But others seem to break free and float up stairs or down, or around corners and into secret hiding places, ready to surprise me in their strange locations.

The roast chicken that I can only smell when I turn that corner at the top of the staircase. My mother’s perfume, still lingering in my son’s closet days after she’s left. The oatmeal cookie smell that has made its way downstairs to the laundry room. The outside smell that catches itself in my boy’s hair, waiting for me to breathe it in when I kiss his sleeping head.

The smells that are where they belong are good and wonderful. They serve their purpose well, letting me know when the cookies are done or overdone, or the roast venison is close to being ready. These are the reliable smells.

The smells that wander are surprises. They are gifts, lurking behind closed doors or in strange places. They serve no purpose other than pleasure. They bring a smile and trigger a memory. These are the fun smells.

I’m thankful for reliable, and I’m grateful for fun.

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