1. Lana had expected the farmyard to be muddy and malodorous, but the earth turned out to be hard-packed, pebbly clay, and the odour of ordure was muted.
2. The door swung open on squealing hinges; then large hands hurled the bike aside and hauled her to her feet and into a tight embrace … where she was enveloped in the aura of pipe tobacco that clung to a thin, soft shirt veiling warm, hard muscles – and for one mad moment, it was the fragrance of heaven.
3. The shop exuded the same musty, dusty smell possessed by every other such establishment of her acquaintance.
4. The cloudburst swept down the street and the scent of rain wafted in … freshening the ancient atmosphere that seeped from the building.
5. “When I was courting her, I smoked cigarettes. She hated it, and she asked me to knock the fags before we wed. I didn’t think I could, but I thought I might cut back on my smoking if I used a pipe. So, I found a blend that she thought smelled like incense – and she set the date. I started using a brier, but on the day we married, and every anniversary, she gave me a meerschaum.”
6. Compared to commercial briquettes, the hand-cut turf was heavy and damp and it smoked a bit, but it did take the chill off the house – for which she was quite grateful, as the weather forecasts indicated no change in the unseasonably cool conditions.
7. But the angel shrugged off its shining robe, and lifting the bedclothes, it lay down and took him into its arms – whereupon Dillon cried himself to sleep on its scented satin bosom.
8. He was so close, she caught a whiff of his shaving soap – she thought of his old-fashioned mug and brush on the bathroom shelf at Drumcarroll – and she was struck mute by a vivid fantasy of watching him shave … his broad shoulders and bare back flexing above a towel tucked round his trim hips and tight bum –
9. “Are you sure? You see, it started a while ago – with dreaming about Mo. Sometimes we’re – going at it – and sometimes I’m kissing her – her body – and it always makes me – anyhow, this time it was so real, I even smelt perfume – so when I woke up in a mess, I -”
10. “I think I know what happened. I was there, when you were crying, and I left when you fell asleep. But the shower gel I use has a strong scent – I’ll bet if we check the pillowcases, we’ll still smell it. I wasn’t even there when it happened. Don’t worry about it.”
11. Most of these early apples had a tender consistency and marked sweetness, but when combined with fruit that was firm and tart yielded a full-bodied, chunky apple sauce with a balanced bouquet that she was proud to call her own.
12. By the time that task had been completed, the air had filled with the autumnal aroma of stewing apples.
13. The sliding glass door was open between the two rooms, and the air was redolent with the aroma of food and resonant with the chatter of women who were arranging platters and bowls upon the worktops.
14. He’d just poured his second cuppa tea – for he’d been unable to stomach even a whiff of alcohol ever since that spell of queasiness on the night he thought he’d seen Mo – when the door opened, and who but Frank Halligan should saunter into the pub.
15. He inhaled deeply above the first spoonful. “It smells like Mamó’s pies!”
16. He rejoined them in a remarkably short time – his damp golden hair revealing its redness, his face freshly and fragrantly shaven, and his chiselled throat and arms generously shared by the open neck and rolled-up sleeves of a white shirt tucked into tight jeans.
17. He awoke to the scent of fresh-baked cinnamon-sultana scones – and famished again, he enjoyed more than his fair share during tea.
18. That night, he snuggled into his blankets with a fragrantly steaming mug close at hand, and tapped out a text message that he didn’t realise was rather raunchy until the moment after he sent it: “u r warming my bed 2nite!”
19. Reassured by this rationalisation, he turned the key – and then all of his good intentions evaporated, for when he opened the door, he was enveloped in the pungent aroma of –
20. The spicy scent was so strong, that the pie couldn’t have been very long out of the oven – indeed, warmth still radiated from it.
Almost two-thirds of the way through the book, and it looks like Irish Firebrands still averages a bit more than two scent-based episodes per chapter. That makes sense, because being a pantser, I didn’t write it chronologically. Again, nothing exotic in the bouquet: cow floppers, pipe tobacco, an old building, rain, burnt peat, shaving soap, shower gel, alcohol, cooked apples, fresh bread, cinnamon, herbal tea. But when I was watching my imaginary friends and listening to them talk about what happened, those were the scents that stood out in those scenes. Next time, we’ll follow our noses to the end of the book….
©2012, 2013 Christine Plouvier