My kids and I had the pleasure of going on a "smellwalk" last week, with a woman I interviewed for my new book. It was TONS of fun. We walked around a single block in Brooklyn, stopping every 100 yards or so, turning around 360 degrees and smelling whatever we encountered. Then we tried to name all the overlapping smells, and eventually give them a color. The basic idea is to get a "smell-personality" of the area, which speaks to how people live in that neighborhood (what they eat, what they throw away, etc). It was a very powerful understaking in terms of smell and nostalgia as well, which is how I'll write about the experience for my new book, Happinomics.
The big treat for me, however, was when the New York Times wrote a piece about the event, Data for a New York 'Smellmap,' Collected Sniff By Sniff. It was fun they mentioned me (although the writer didn't really understand what the new book is about), but it was AWESOME they mentioned both my daughter and my son. Nate actually got two quotes. When I told them how amazing it is to get mentioned in the NYT, both of my kids took a while to convince. Sophie told one of her friend's Moms about the article who apparently wasn't that impressed.
Well, I AM. My kids were articulate about their smells, using an amazing array of vocabulary to describe their experiences. Plus they had fun meeting all the other adults (they were the only kids). Plus they got to be out until 10:00 PM on a schoolnight, and eat Thai food at 8:30. That's pretty cool in kidland.