The Scent of Snow

Most people would say that there is no smell to snow, but I disagree. It’s nothing strong, it’s nothing you might notice, but it’s there, in the air, this metallic tinge of ice crystals. There would be no point in trying to capture this for a fragrance or a candle. It’s not substantial enough. The only route would be to incorporate some other ancillary scent – maybe the pine trees, or the smoke from a fire, or even the acrid notes of exhaust and snow-blowers that can’t help but attach itself to the scene, in the way that gasoline from a lawn-mower is inextricably bound to the smell of freshly-cut grass.

Yet in its purest form, the scent of snow must exist. There must be some combination of molecules in the air when it snows that combines to form the fleeting fragrance, like the scent of ozone after a summer rain. Technically speaking, this wouldn’t be the scent of snow, exactly, but whatever else was in the air at the time of its falling. These are the circles the mind traverses as the temperatures chase us inside. Really, who would want to smell snow at this time anyway? We’ll get more than enough in its natural form, no need to put it in a bottle when it will surely overwhelm.

Still, it’s tempting to capture it, so beautiful is the scene at hand. So much of life is driven by that quest for the sublime, but the only thing that can truly convey the wonder of snow is, well, snow. Everything else is but a poor substitute, a hollow echo of the real thing – and an echo of something as ethereal as snow is hardly a thing at all.

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