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Wednesday, 26 January 2011
No, it isn't teen spirit.
Admittedly, at our house 'what's that smell' is a game we play... one kid, two young dogs, busy parents...
But today I was thinking more along the lines of the power of smell to trigger memory, to comfort, evoke warmth and bring a smile to our faces.

This line of thinking got started over the usual battle of wills required to put Puppy in the 'bath' (aka washing machine).  Rowan's line of resistence is drawn along the fact that she loves the way Puppy smells, and if we wash him, he won't smell like Puppy anymore.  And given the importance of Puppy in her life~ she was known exclusively and adamantly as 'Puppy's Mom' for about 2 years, it is fair to say that his smell is part of his dubious charm (see photo below of Puppy and Puppy's doppleganger, purchased 4 years ago in case Puppy got lost... no chance of subbing in the new guy now!) and part of the comfort Rowan draws from his presence.  These days Puppy goes to school in her bag, and then into her cubby in case she needs him.
He did get a bath, secretly, while Rowan slept, so far no notice has been made of his de-smellification.
But then I was thinking about the smells in my own memory.

I saw something the other day which recalled the Polo brand cologne and I could *smell* it and was immediately transported to the Eaton Centre (Brantford) and the perfume counter~ wearing my high school itchy kilt, laughing with friends and spraying Polo on my jacket during lunch break because at 14, that is the way we thought a man should smell!

A recent curry dinner at home took me back to happy days of riding my bike with a friend around the crescent by her home where, at dinnertime, the most intriguing (and then unfamiliar) smells emanated from the homes of  her multicultural neighbors.  I could feel the bike beneath me as we glided down the big hill.

A certain combination of wet dog and the particular crushed flora on our lakeshore always sets me yearning for my old dog Callie, gone five years, but completely enmeshed in my memories of  many many hours spent playing and swimming along the rocky bank of the Southwest Miramichi in New Brunswick when I was settled there as a new minister and Callie was a pup.

Bayberry is Christmas.  Panned Easter eggs and the musty smell of spring soil is Easter ~ they bring back the sensation of that plastic easter grass and the fun of counting jellybeans with my sister so we would always have the exact same amount.  A certain lipstick scent, found once in a bar of  handmade soap I purchased, is my grandmother~ the lipstick, cold air and the feel of her muskrat fur coat and leather gloves come rushing back.

What scent memories are important to you? ♥


sheila said...

You've just reminded me: the eau-de-cologne 4711. Remember that one? It was something I used to buy in teeny tiny bottles as a teen, back when it was affordable.

Easter chocolate. Christmas chocolate. Spring mornings. Smell is a nice thing, isn't it?

Unknown said...

LOL Yes, I do remember!
Smell is a wonderful thing :)

Lindsay RC Wilson said...

I was thinking about smells the other day. I opened the fridge and it smelled like hard-boiled eggs (husband had just made some) and I instantly thought of childhood Easter time.

In 8th grade, I had read about smell and memory. Two friends and I sprayed Coty on ourselves while we studied for our algebra exams and then would spray it again right before we took the test hoping that it would trigger our memories.

One of my favorite smells is creosote, which is a desert plant. I didn't realize until I was an adult that this was the smell I loved. I always associated it with rain because it can be smelled when it rains in Las Vegas (my hometown).

I am sure I will think of more.

Anonymous said...

Certain pipe tobaccos and horehound candy remind me of my Grandpa.

To me Easter smells like vinegar (that we dissolve the egg dye in).

And pine smells like Christmas even though we've had a fake tree since we got married.

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