It's not the snow on the ground, since that typically comes in February. It's not that God-awful song by Mariah Carey, since that happens earlier and earlier every year. Nope, there's a better way to tell when winter has officially started in Pasco, Washington. Just step outside one of these days when it's especially chilly and trust me, you'll get punched right in the nose with an unmistakable odor.

Getty Images, Canva
Getty Images, Canva
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What's that weird smell in Pasco?

When temperatures drop and the air starts to stagnate, a distinctive smell starts to permeate throughout Pasco. Here's the best way to describe it. Imagine you got crop-dusted by a pile of freshly-cut lumber that ate spoiled eggs. It's like a fart but not in a way that you're instantly repulsed. After a while, it starts to smell nice to you and you become disgusted with yourself. Humans are weird, man.

Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash
Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash
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If I had to guess where the smell is coming from, I'd say it could be the Boise paper mill near Wallula. It's a mere 15 miles away from Pasco so that smell could be traveling on the eastern Washington winds but during the winter, the thicker air that has stagnated hangs on to the stench, making it linger. Is it bad that I kind of like it?

Photo by Ella Ivanescu on Unsplash
Photo by Ella Ivanescu on Unsplash
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I certainly don't want to buy candles that smell like paper mills and pulp, but I do get a nostalgic feeling when the scent hits me. When I was younger, I went to a private school in Pasco and made the drive from College Place, passing the Boise mill every day. Maybe we'll chalk it up to Stockholm syndrome.

So there you have it. When the cold air starts to smell like your filing cabinet farted, 'tis the season.

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