Did you know that the summer rain, which finally comes after a heat wave, smells the same everywhere in the world? The scent does not come from the sky. What we smell is actually the aroma produced by the combination of soil-dwelling actinomycetes, fungus-like bacteria, and raindrops. Petrichor in an Ancient Greek πέτρα ‘rock’ and ἰχώρ ‘divine blood’ is the name of the smell that seems to be liked by people globally. Or perhaps not by everyone. Maybe it is too bold of a statement. But isn’t it wonderful to get refreshed after the drought? Who wouldn’t like that?
But the relationship with the smell can change. Probably more than one person who is reading these lines and has had covid, has faced some changes in terms of the sense of smell. That moment when you realize you can’t smell anything anymore is scary. You no longer understand whether you are hungry, whether the food is still good to eat, or maybe something is burning nearby, only you have no idea. Even coffee doesn’t make you happy anymore. And then, if you’re lucky, after a week – and if you’re not, then after a few months – you are able to smell again – even if it’s a toothpaste which turns out to be with grapefruit. Or freshly chopped dill, or your neighbor smoking. Anything as long as you can breathe in using the full capacity of your lungs.
Enjoying the city with the full capacity of your lungs is not simply about smelling the asphalt dust. Kaunas is still green, although real estate and paving stone developers are fiercely pursuing their goals. if it becomes too sticky to walk in Laisvės – or more precisely linden – Avenue, you are only several steps away from Panemunė, Ąžuolynas or VMU Botanical Garden. Or Kaunas Lagoon, which, as we found out earlier in the magazine, smells like marzipan, due to the fishermen trying to attract fish. But the best thing is to plunge headlong into the junipers. You will find out why by reading an interview with certified nature therapist Linas Daubaras.
Of course, since this issue is about smells, we will definitely visit the VMU Botanical Garden. One of the most popular events taking place here is called the Night of Scents, which will take place in the rhythm of the forest this year. Why? We will find out while walking among the peony beds. We will also stop by the most fragrant pantry in Kaunas right next to both city stations. We will discuss what the smells of rivers, streams and brooks tell us about Kaunas and its residents. Thanks to the creators of Hortus Apertus at the Maironis Lithuanian Literature Museum, we will immerse ourselves in the life of Dalia Grinkevičiūtė. We will find out if the townspeople of the interwar period smelled good and where was the soap they used made. We will also get to know a perfumer Eglė Jonaitytė, who has given a sense with her works to more than one face of Kaunas.