Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scent of a Memory

It's weird how scents can really bring up the memories associated with them. Certain scents trigger visceral reactions for me and they are more powerful than looking at photographs or listening to songs. Some scents remind me of specific people - like the smell of sawdust always makes me think of my grandpa, who was a carpenter. Familiar places can be brought to mind by a special scent; eastern Washington, around a little town called Leavenworth, has the most amazing smell of pine needles, smoke, mountain runoff, and apples that always reminds me of family trips there. Food scents trigger feelings especially, like the smell of my mom's curried chicken or the molasses from an old family recipe for cookies. Childhood scents, like Play-doh and the scent of new vinyl from Halloween costumes, Princess Leia dolls and Cabbage Patch kids sends me back to those years. (Sure wish I had held on to my Leia doll - big money now.)

Advertisers have tried to capitalize on this idea for years - think about all the perfume ads (I can't seem to forget you, your Windsong stays on my mind...) and scented candles. And generally, I am a sucker for this kind of advertising. I'm always bringing home scented stuff, which of course drives my scent-sensitive husband crazy. But that is only a fringe benefit (Ah, I kid, I kid...); the reason I buy the blackberry fern candles, and the apple martini body wash, and the lemonade shampoo is that I like the places that scents take me. I like to remember fun times, people I have loved, and places that are special to me.


Lorraine said...

Lavender, cigar smoke, leaves burning, mown grass, rosemary, Oil of Olay, Pledge and floor wax...I hear you.

Speck said...

Brut, bleach, Downey; fresh pack of notebook paper, sharpened pencils, plastic notebooks; cornbread dressing, cabbage rolls, sugar cookies. All these scents take me back to very happy times and places. Smell memories rock.

Jimmie Earl said...

Windsong was my wife's favorite scent (besides Estee Lauder's Youth Dew) and since she has been gone, I can still smell it whenever I open her side of the medicine cabinet in our shared bath. The first time I opened it after her death, it hit me like a ton of brick; now I get some comfort from just a quick whiff. I have grown to hate vanilla scented anything. I threw out all of her vanilla candles. Weird, huh!