The Smell of Snowmobiles

Today, I had a scent-memory moment on my way home from work. I was behind a vehicle that had the distinct smell of gas mixed with oil, and it made me remember snowmobiling when I was a kid.

I remembered riding snowmobiles on the acreage owned by various members of our family. I rode with my friends, my siblings, my cousins. I was young, but I could usually handle myself. Unless I got stuck, which happened a few times. Or unless I tipped the snowmobile, which happened a few times. But mostly it was just fun. I’d ride around the property, using the long trails to open it up and go faster.

When it was a family thing, we’d end it by watching movies or having a hot dog roast with hot cocoa and marshmallows. On holidays, we’d play games or cards afterwards, but even later at night we’d suit up and head out again for a night ride. I remember one of the coolest things to do was to be able to go riding with my dad and my aunts and uncles. I was a kid, so anytime I got to stuff with the grownups I was excited.

It wasn’t just the good memories that brought about the feels today, but it was also the realization that it wasn’t just summer that gave me great memories. Winter did, too. I just lost them over the years and in the scramble of all my other feelings for winter, mostly ones of hate for the cold, snow, and ice, and in seeing winter as the enemy.

Winter gave me a lot of things to love: snowmobiling, hockey, sleepovers with friends (I remember more winter ones than summer ones) a chance to cool off during college parties. Even remembering snowy nights at college where I stood outside smoking with friends gives me a happy feeling of nostalgia.

I don’t hate winter anymore. Sure, I complain about the snow and ice when it stresses me out while driving, and I’m known to swear at the cold (though I could help that if I’d break down and wear a hat and gloves). But in the past few years I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of it and the natural order of time that brings the season.

And being able to remember the past happiness winter gave me makes it that much easier.