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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau


Do you dream often? I'm not sure how often I do, but at least once every couple of weeks I can wake up from a dream and remember quite a few details. After I start my day, the details usually become less and less clear and usually disappear altogether. I have had, however, some lulus over the years that even now I can remember, if not wholly, then in part. Recently I had a really weird one, so unusual that I had to do some research into dreams to find out more about it. Most of my dreams are in color, but this one was not only in color, it smelled! I was awakened by the smell, too. It was a really awful smell, like from an old building that had been closed up for a long time and was sort of a combination of the aroma of old wood finishes that had become musty and damp. Olafactory dreamers, of which I can now count myself a member, are apparently rather rare. It is estimated that only about 1% of all people can report dreams that included the sense of smell, and most of them are women. There has been little research done in the field of sensory dreams, too, which means that no one can really explain how or why some of us might have such a one. Of course, there are those people out there who believe that they can help a person understand their dreams and can come up with some, pretty unconvincing to my mind, reasons why someone might smell in a dream, like this one, " A pleasant smell is the indication of nice things coming your way, while an unpleasant smell means sadness and a relationship lacking joy." The reason I don't want to believe this analysis is because my dream smell was so bad that not only did it wake me up, it made me get up for awhile and see if I could clear my head of the smell by going out on my porch in cold weather and breathing deeply. This, I might add, did nothing to get rid of the smell which I carried around in my waking state for at least five minutes. But then there are people like Rachel Herz, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University and author of The Scent of Desire, who believes that it is impossible to have smells a part of your dreams. She calls it "pure nonsense," and adds that her "research" has proven that you can't smell in your dreams. I think she needs to do better research as her conclusions have been predominately based on placing odorous items under a person's nose while they are in REM sleep and then asking them when they awake if they smelled anything in their dreams. Most people that have reported smelling something while dreaming usually report things like fresh coffee or baking bread or cake, things that have not been in their environment at all while they were sleeping. Up until that recent dream I don't ever remember having one that included this sensation, certainly not so strong as it did this time. I have tried to make sense of it and I have one possible idea of what might have caused it. I had the dream shortly after having one of my two Covid vaccines. I know that one of the symptoms of Covid for some people has been losing their sense of smell. While I admit that this idea is "way out there," I do wonder if there is some connection to the dream and my antibodies building up? Of course, I will never know. But it is an interesting idea. Today's image is another creation from the iColorma app based on a picture I took recently of the silk amaryllis on my desk using one of the kaleidoscope filter lenses that I recently got for my iPhone.

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