Make Something: Smell

Make something in which the sense of smell is the essential component.

Today, my creation is a written observation …

My husband smells good. People know this about him. It’s not unusual for female friends, co-workers—even strangers—to stop Jim and gush over his pleasing aroma. “Oh my goodness, you smell so good!” “What are you wearing?” “I wish my husband/boyfriend/dog smelled like you!”

Song idea: Don’t you wish your man was aromatic like mine?

When it comes to morning rituals, Jim is even more deliberate about his cologne than I am about my moisturizing face cleanser. And that’s saying something. This is a man who cares about his scent.

But today, Jim is wearing an altogether different fragrance.

Birthdays come often in our family. In a blended family with six kids, it’s inevitable. We had another this week, as Brandon turned 17. Though getting the whole crew to the table is challenging, we do celebrate each person’s birthday with a family meal—and the birthday guy or girl gets to choose the restaurant or home-cooked menu.

Brandon’s choice: smoked brisket. Jim said he would prepare it. Every one of us loves barbecue, so this was a winning choice all around.

But Jim was anxious about his responsibilities at the smoker. Although he’s an expert cook and grill master, he has never smoked a brisket before. Still, he was determined to make good on his son’s birthday wish.

So Jim got up before 6:00 a.m. to start smoking a brisket. He rearranged his whole day to accommodate the 10-pound slab of meat he purchased from our local butcher yesterday.

He even skipped his daily spritzing of cologne.

Instead, this extraordinary father—along with our backyard and probably much of the neighborhood—began bathing in the aroma of barbecue before 7:00 a.m.

By 8:00 a.m., he smelled of delicious hickory smoke.

While the rest of us went about the comings and goings of a typical summer Saturday, he stayed home to tend the fire and monitor the temperature of the smoker and the meat itself. He hung out in the humid, 90-degree weather, minding the brisket.

Around 12:30, as I returned from the grocery store, Jim greeted me with a grin, shaking the hem of his tee shirt. My eyebrows rose as the smoky scent met my nostrils. My nose sent fast alert to my stomach that the morning’s bowl of Cheerios was inadequate and long-forgotten. I was hungry.

But smoking a brisket is a 10-hour process, and we were just halfway there.

Putting away groceries, feeding kids lunch, and prepping for the birthday dinner kept me in the kitchen, about as far as possible from Jim, his smoker, and his tempting aroma. Then a baseball game took me even farther away. At the ballpark, rain-washed grass distracted my olfactory receptors from thoughts of barbecue.

A quick win and a light breeze brought me back to Jim’s fragrance just after 3:30. He was preparing to pull the brisket (plus ribs) from the smoker. As he walked past me with tray and tongs, the smoky aroma overtook me again. I contemplated grabbing him by the hand and pulling him close … then dipping his fingers in Sweet Baby Ray’s as an appetizer.

I refrained.

In moments, Jim returned in a dreamy cloud of hickory smoke.

He let the meat rest, then sliced part of the brisket and chopped the rest. We sang a blessing over the food, then filled our plates.

The brisket and the ribs were incredible. And Jim, now sitting across the room in his smoke-infused shirt, is an olfactory reminder of a delicious meal.

It will almost be a shame to hear him open the cabinet that holds his cologne tomorrow morning. I love his scent. But I’ll miss the satisfying smell of the smoker.

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