Smell of Corn Flakes

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There are many unique things about a place — from the people to the architecture to the cuisine — but one of the most descriptive things about a place is its smell. It’s impossible to recreate, sometimes impossible to describe and sometimes even goes unnoticed except in your memories.

When you get off a plane in Florida, can’t you smell the humidity and palm trees? (And isn’t that a wonderful change from the smell of an airplane!) When you drive through the Colorado mountains, can’t you smell the sunshine and evergreens?

Well, my town smells like corn flakes, at least sometimes. It’s not the powdery cereal smell that comes from opening a box of Kellogg’s finest because it doesn’t come from a cereal box. Instead, it’s a warm, moist, nutty smell from the steam-flaking plant across the road. Steam flaking is a process of breaking down corn — steaming it — so livestock can digest it better. And it has a lovely side effect of wafting across the few streets in this town, giving my town a distinctive smell that is much more pleasant than, say, the backed-up sewers of Baghdad.

And, like the causes of many location-specific smells, these corn flakes represent my town. They represent agriculture. It’s a rare (or nonexistent) person around here whose life isn’t touched by agriculture — even if they aren’t growing the grain or raising the cattle. Agriculture supports my town and all the towns around it. After all, every business in my little town — and the bigger town nearby — has farmers and ranchers as their main clients.

I’m especially grateful that my town’s agricultural smells are not as unpleasantly pungent as some others! I’ll take corn flakes over feed lots any day. I’ve heard the smell of a feed lot is “the smell of money,” but I’ll let someone else have that money. I’ll stick with corn flakes.

What does your town smell like?

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