Aaah, the smell of cis-3-hexen-1-ol

They are tedding the hay in the field behind our garden today – we’ve had such a cool wet summer so far this is the first time it’s really felt like summer (i.e. hot and dry). Hay is best made in June, but mid-July it will have to be.

The smell of cut grass is one of those small pleasures in life: probably best appreciated drifting from a way away with the distant buzz of the mower, shouts of “Howzat”, and a glass of cool ginger beer shandy in hand. Well, that’s what I remember from long ago.

The aroma is, I read, chiefly given by an aromatic alcohol called cis-3-hexen-1-ol. There is some speculation that this is a distress signal given out by the wounded leaves, so now I will have to feel guilty every time I start the lawnmower.

The only thing better, IMO, is the aroma of good meadow hay – the chief constituent of which is coumarin. Opening a bale of hay in the middle of winter is like seeing a small slice of summer: compressed grass, perhaps the flash of a pressed purple knapweed flower, and that wonderful scent. I tend to use haylage these days as small-bale hay is harder to find – but its bucolic aroma of hand-rolling tobacco and yeast is no match for hay, I have to say.

Those of you who get your perfume hits in the sterile air of the department store cosmetics floor just don’t realise what you are missing!

And talking of cricket as I was, tangentially, it’s the time to be listening to Test Match Special: even when the play is interrupted, the commentators have a wonderful flow of comforting chat about statistics, cake, and life in general. The highlight of the show (and perhaps sports commentating in general) has to be the infamous “legover incident” – I defy you to listen and not smile, if not chuckle, yourself. The Telegraph has it archived, unlike the Beeb, apparently.