Several Canandaigua residents complained of a stink believed to be rotting green peppers.

CANANDAIGUA — You know something smells bad when it’s described this way: “Oh my goodness. It gagged me.”

That’s how Becky O’Donnell, who lives nowhere near the Ontario County Landfill but for a time last week she sure thought she did, put it. And she wasn’t alone.

Most everyone enjoys stepping outside and breathing deeply of the bouquet of fresh country air — it’s one reason why many choose the Finger Lakes to live and work. But there are times when the wind is just right and the pungency of rural America takes a turn toward the P-U.

The Contrary Farmer, a neat blog dedicated to the memory of Gene Logsdon, an Ohio author who wrote about agrarian issues (it’s worth checking out), provides a subjective list of five of the best and worst smells on a farm. One of the worst, buzzard vomit: “I don’t know this from experience but my father always said this was ‘by far the worst smell God ever created.’”

And there could be something to birds. Clifton Springs Police Chief Scott Upchurch, while determining why thousands of crows had to be dispersed from the village last week, said waste was one of the reasons why it ranked as a top safety concern.

“You could smell the feces on the ground,” Upchurch said.

But what lingered in the air over near Canandaigua Farmington Townline Road was something else for O’Donnell, who lives off Purdy Road in Canandaigua Country Estates, and for a few of her friends and neighbors who also were nearly knocked off their socks. She said last Monday night she was outside when the stench hit her.

“I hurried around and got in the car quick,” O’Donnell said. “It was that bad.”

Doug Finch, director of development for the town of Canandaigua, said code enforcement was dispatched when he first began to hear about the smell.

A 10-by-10 pile of what is believed to be rotting green peppers was found, Finch said.

“We were afraid it was septic or sewer,” Finch said. “I guess on the bright side, it’s green peppers.”

For a lot of people who smelled what was dealt to them, O’Donnell said the explanation doesn’t sound quite right.

Green peppers smelling that bad? Really? she asked.

“It’s still a mystery,” O’Donnell said.

Someone ought to be fined, said O’Donnell, who toward the end of the week noted the aroma seems to have dissipated.

“We’re not really sure where it came from,” Finch said, but the town did notify possible culprits about the issue and reminded them of the more appropriate places for disposal.

“I feel bad for the people living there,” Finch said. “It was pretty bad.”

Editor's note

Have you ever driven past a local oddity or seen or heard of something that made you stop and wonder, "What's up with that?" We have, too — and now we're hoping to provide some answers to these long-lingering questions with this column, which appears Sundays. If you have questions you need answered, either email or call Local Editor Mike Murphy at mmurphy@messengerpostmedia.com or 585-337-4229.