The Smell of the Blues


It was a good night for a glass of peanut juice over ice with a splash of Jack. My heart was sad as my life wasn’t turning out like a Julia Roberts movie. I had papers to grade,  forms for my lawyer and Microsoft did automatic updates on my computer, turning all of my software back into Chinese. Then I couldn’t sleep, because mind was swimming all night in the sea of the woulda, coulda, shouldas.


But instead of sleeping in the next morning and having a boo-hoo party for one, I had to join friends on a trip to the Kunming Flower Market.

Really? A day for Allegra instead of Kleenex?

I was less then thrilled.

That is, until I got there.


It was Kunming’s Dounan International Flower Market, a sight for sore eyes and curious nostrils.


Now let me remind you. China is the ultimate adventure for your schnozzle. While globetrotters can post selfies in front of old temples and the “Is that the pet section or meat section?” of Walmart, there is no way to capture the bouquet of this country. China’s odors tend to linger, if you want them to or not. And the smells of the flower market are worth clipping your nose hairs for.


The Dounan Market is not a mamby-pamby little flower store that makes corsages for mothers. It’s one of the largest flower exporters in the world, hustling around the clock, sending roses, lilies and orchids to the FTC florist near you.


And what they don’t sell? They go on the day old shelf and are sold to lucky locals and lovers.


Several bikers huffed and puffed all of the way the to the flower market.


You’d think once this Lance Armstrong wannabee got off his butt-blistering saddle, he’d wolf down a power bar. But he lit up a Kent and offered me one as well.


This vendor lit up too, and so did I. Not a cigarette, but with a smile when I saw this  woman making crowns out of flowers for Chinese princesses.


That’s when I remembered, smells are linked to memories.  The smell of Old Kent Cigarettes reminds me of my dad. The smell of Butter Pecan Ice cream brings my mom back to life. And one whiff of these lilies with a blue rose in the middle reminded me of my Aunt Addie, who recently passed away.


She shoved religion down my throat like mash potatoes, bless her Baptist heart. Every Bible verse I know is because of her, including Matthew 6:28:

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

No offense, Aunt Addie,  but I think this lady should worry a little…


Then these flowers reminded me of the crayons I had in the first grade. But I didn’t eat any of these.


When I saw this pallet of  Gerbera daisies, I discovered my heart had a good sense of smell, too. The boo-hoos came on big time.


Luckily, a friend came to the rescue. She surprised me with a dozen of roses, which reminded me of that jelly Renuzit my Grandma had in her bathroom, that would wiggle like jelly.


A Nutella jar made a  delicious vase. So my day got happier. The blues faded away. Then I turned on my link to the English world, Spotify, and Nat King Cole’s song, Pretend was playing:

Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue
It isn’t very hard to do
And you’ll find happiness without an end
Whenever you pretend.

From now on, my nose is colorblind.







3 comments to “The Smell of the Blues”
    • Thank you! Of all the smells I’ve encountered in China, none come close to cooking the donated meat from Portellos in the Jesus People kitchen! Miss the good times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *