Small Town Survival Guide: “The Smell”

I write this post in honour of the smell which is seeping in through my closed window, waiting to pounce and make me gag. As well, for the blessed antihistamines flowing through my body to battle whatever allergic reaction that the smell is carrying with it.

I live in a pulp and paper mill town. It’s awful. Not the town—the smell of the town.

There is no way to accurately describe this smell, which I’ve dubbed as being “beaver farts.” It’s a mash up of wooden pellets—which in theory should smell nice—except that it’s like these wood pellets have slowly rotted away in the intestines of a furry creature.

The tauntaun sleeping bag from ThinkGeek. For all your Hoth emergency needs.

Others have told me it smells more like someone sliced open a Tauntaun and slept in it.

We need to hold a contest. The “What exactly does this place smell like? Championship.” (WEDTPSLC) I’m totally copyrighting that one. The prize could be a lifetime supply of deodorizer spray.

But I digress.

Most small towns (and I say most because there are always exceptions) at some point will smell. And it will be an awful, awful smell.

Even if you’ve managed to avoid a pulp and paper mill town, that doesn’t mean you’re free of stink.

Small fishing towns will smell of fish. Skunks are going to skunk-it-up.

And then there are the small farming towns.

Dante's inferno. I'm sure there's something in there about dairy.

In my hometown, the local dairy would dump unwanted milk onto a couple of fields. Have you ever smelled dairy as it absorbs into dirt during a hazy-melt-your-face-off-summer day? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe Dante mentioned it somewhere when talking about that whole “inferno” thing.

And being around farms means poop. Lots and lots of animal poop.

This might astound city and suburban folk, but there are actually poop-grades when it comes to smellitude.

Horse poop? Actually not so bad in my opinion. Cow poop is a little worse, but bearable. Pigs? Yeah, that’s starting to get nasty.

But the worst of the worst are chickens.

I don't even eat chicken. Why do I have to put up with the smell of their poop?

Chickens are the reason we have to hold our breathe for about half a kilometre when traveling along one stretch of the highway into the city from my original home town. Taking a deep breathe in and turning blue while holding it became part of a Pavlovian response we had when we drew near that tell-tale hill.

You can’t really hate on it either, because what are you going to do about it? You can’t stop animals from doing what they do.

Or you could do something about it, but that would make you one of “those people” aka … the people who move to small towns to escape the big city but then want to change everything around in a small town because it doesn’t suit them—including complaining about the smell of the farms WHICH FEED YOU.

Yeah, don’t be that person.

It’s not like big cities don’t smell. They do. Oh for high heaven they do. It’s just that after a while the smells all mingle together into one gloaming fog and you can’t differentiate one smell from another. Or it’s just smelly in one slight spot, and the solution is to cross the street.

You know you’ve fully adapted to small town living when you no longer are bothered by the smell. It’s a rite of passage when newcomers wrinkles their noses and start to keel over, and your expression stays blank.

My advice? Be proud of that. You’ve earned it.

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5 Responses to Small Town Survival Guide: “The Smell”

  1. lpunkari says:

    Never mind that smell (A great tune by Lynyrd Skynyrd I might add). I want to get me one of those Tauntaun sleeping bags.

    I will pay upwards of three grand for one.

  2. I just have to say that I have been in this small town for 22 years and I still can’t stand the smell. I was told that I would get used to it but I didn’t. I often drive through town with one hand because the other is plugging my nose. I also agree about the allergies – these have started since moving here. I also agree with the animal poop smells – although I prefer to smell that over the mill. You are just too funny. Somehow I don’t think the general population of FF would like this post but I do!

    • Pegs says:

      I find that manure has a certain fresh “zest” to it in some cases.

      As for FF ppl not liking this post, they don’t exactly have a leg to stand on! I’m not making moral judgment on how the smell is made. Just stating a simple fact: It smells here. Often horribly.

  3. Sheena says:

    One mention of the word chicken poo takes me back to that hill on the highway where you hold your breathe for what feels like forever. Thanks for evoking that smell-memory.
    By the way, I am digging this small town blog!

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