Smell of Hot Sand

What does hot sand smell like? It’s a sweet, somewhat musky, odor that radiates off sand after its baked in 90-degree-plus heat for a few days. It’s hard to describe, but I know it when I smell it. To me, it smells like home.

I’ve spent most of my life in the sands of rural Florida. Even when I visited my maternal grandmother who lived in a town, her house was off a sand street, so the smell stayed in my nostrils during the summer.

Maybe most people aren’t sensitive to that smell. But it kicks off a wave of nostalgia in me. It’s like a lot of folks who start thinking of childhood Thanksgiving dinners when they smell turkey in an oven. Hot sand brings to my mind horseback riding, ball playing, livestock tending and sundry other activities in the heat.

After spending most of my life in the Florida scrub, my senses respond differently than those of most people. The hooting of a great horned owl or the croaking of tree frogs relaxes me and puts me asleep rather than keeping me up at night.

I smile rather than feeling apprehensive at the sight of a gator swimming alongside my boat. Insect strings usually don’t bother me very much.

Not that I’m unique. Most of the people from the scrub react the same way. Our senses adapted themselves to their environments.

Maybe that’s why we like chittlins, hog jowls, calf brains and other dishes that make urban dwellers and Yankees run screaming from the table. We also throw hot sauce on just about everything we eat. Maybe that’s because we like to balance out the heat outside with heat inside ourselves.