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That Florida Smell

June 23, 2014

It smelled like Florida this morning. I’ve noticed this phenomenon ever since returning home to Minnesota from south Florida in 1975. For just a few weeks every year, during the transition from late spring to early summer, it happens.

When the early morning temperature is warm, but not too warm, and the humidity is high enough to add some water to the air, but not so high as to become overpowering to the point where you can’t catch your breath, and you add in the gentlest of southerly breezes to mix everything around, then the magic happens: a Florida smell.

Of course that wondrous smell lacks the ocean-sweet taste of salt on your tongue, but I’ll still take it.


but maybe perfectly?

the smell only lasts for a short time each morning, and how long the smell lasts is iffy and can change from day to day. The sun and the humidity aren’t in perfect synch, or the sun rises up just enough to raise the temp 1/10” of a degree, or burn off some of that humidity, or the breeze dies down, and boom, it’s gone. Or worse, it never happened.

Insert heart here. I love the Florida smell.

– – – –

Just so a person shouldn’t get lost in extravagant fantasy and overindulge in a chimerical smell that can transport him back in time almost 40 years is the downtown summer rot smell. The downtown rot smell begins once the snow melts and generally lasts until the year’s first freeze. That tangy toxic funk made up of equal parts diesel exhaust and rotting garbage spilling from overflowing, and seemingly forgotten, trashcans.



One Comment leave one →
  1. June 23, 2014 9:28 am

    i know EXACTLY what you are talking about! When I first moved down here from Massachusetts I noticed a distinct wet/pungent loamy smell in the air especially when dew or fog was present. I asked a true local about it, someone whose fam had been in the Citrus Grove business around Fellsmere for 6 generations. His answer: That’s Florida Smell.

    Now I wish so badly I hadn’t lost touch with this guy–In his early 30s, his is the first generation to abandon the the declining family grove business–he and his brother admitted defeat and moved up to Atlanta for work just last year. If I had his email I would forward your post to him—no doubt they miss what you’re talking about on a daily basis. Leaving their generational business was something they agonized over for several years.


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