The Smells of Winter
Everyone talks about the ‘smell’ when Spring comes, but what about the smells of winter?
It’s taken its sweet time, but we can safely say that winter in the Central West is well and truly upon us. Cutting wood out in the forest in a t-shirt on the 8th of June had me believing that I wouldn’t be needing the wood I was collecting, and that the little cold snap we’d had the week before was just yanking my chain. But it’s here. The fire is pumping, and it won’t go out until September (maybe later). That smell of sawdust as the boxwood logs are cut on the forest floor into transportable pieces is one of my faves. We’ve also got an open fire in the formal loungeroom that gets a semi-regular run, especially on super-cold nights – that crackling sound and the background ‘burning’ perfume are as warming as the heat.
With under 2 months until the City2Surf comes round again, runners across the Central West are braving the cold and amping up the training schedule for that legendary 14k stroll. I’m not much of a fan of running with a tummy full of food, so most of my miles are clocked up pre-breakfast. That means in June and July it’s bloody cold out there!! But you know what I mean when I say “there’s no air in the air” at that early time of day, and the smell of ‘nothing’ is absolutely magic. You almost have to suck twice before your lungs get a dose of oxygen. When the air is still and the stars are out on a cloudless morning/night in Orange, there’s really no better smell or sight to behold. The running gods pay us pack when the second week in August comes around though - the high altitude work we’ve done and the bonus of 10 extra degrees of warm in Syd will see a cracking time logged. Thanks winter!
Now, to my favourite bunch of smells in the entire universe. Winter meals. We always look ahead on the ‘Weatherzone’ App to check out what the week ahead has in store for us from the sky. If’ there’s a sign it’ll be a seriously cold and/or miserable day, that’s the cue to plan for a meal in the slow cooker. It takes two days to get it done, as the big slab of lamb or beef (in most cases for us) emerges from the deep freeze to defrost the day prior. Early morning, the veges are chopped, stock put in, and a few secret ingredients and tricks occur, depending on the dish. The meat is added, the lid goes on and the 9 hour timer is clicked to ‘go’. Oh man, I know what’s coming when I walk in the door after work at 5:30ish. It takes a few minutes on the drive home to Millthorpe to remember that the slow cooker went on at 7:30 that morning, then it’s a mighty effort to keep to the speed limit as the anticipation builds.
Opening the back door … not disappointed. If heaven smells even half as good as this then put me down for it. I’m swept off my feet (can you remember how Pepe Le Pew used to get swept up in the perfume smell of the girl cat he had a crush on?) as the magnificent aroma from the kitchen appears to have permeated every crevice of our home. Paradise. Who needs summer? No matter if it’s lamb, beef, chicken, curry or even a vege masterpiece, it can be winter every day if it’s like this. And I didn’t even talk about my wife’s pumpkin soup! Sorry if your mouth is watering, I hope there’s something waiting for you tonight, too.