I didn’t realize that Flagstaff, like Tucson, has late-summer monsoons. The first big storm of the season blew through town last night with lightning, patches of heavy rain, and strong winds. When storms started up in Tucson last week, John reminded me of the way the desert smells after the rain: a mixture of creosote and wet earth permeate the air for a few hours each day. Up here in the woods it’s damp pine—or at least, if I could smell a thing, it would smell like pine. Ever since a nasty cold in early April, my sense of smell has been essentially dead. When I thought I was smelling pine when we first moved up here, I was actually tasting a bit of bitter smoke in the air, bitter being one of the few tastes that the tongue perceives independently of the nose.

It’s a drag, not smelling: Food becomes uninteresting pretty quickly, and Heather is tired of my overloading everything with salt and red pepper. I ate half a bowlf of cereal with spoiled milk before realizing that maybe something was up. Much to my delight, I’ve started to get back a little scent-sation, but only in brief whiffs most of the time; I don’t trust my nose and when I do smell something I can’t always identify it, so I have to ask Heather about everything. Our conversations usually go like this:

A: Hey, I can smell something. What is it?
H: That’s a skunk. It’s awful.


H: Your pasta sauce is great. Really good flavor.
A: Oh yeah? Hunh.

Some people have their sense of smell knocked out for life, but the fact that I have recovered some perception is a good indicator that my anosmia isn’t that serious. With luck, I’ll continue to improve before the end of the rainy season.