“Flotillas of shavings from some carpenter’s block-plane sail down the stream like ships going off to war. Underneath them the weak current nudges turds and bits of slaughtered animals down towards the harbor. It smells accordingly. No denying there is a tallow-chandlery not far upwind, where beast-grease not fit for eating is made into candles and soap.”
In this description, Neal Stephenson describes one thing well, evoking other contributions to the surrounding and atmosphere. This is much better than the lists of things I keep trying to cram into my descriptions, describing three or four things in the setting.