The Nose Knows : Scent Memory
While making morning coffee, the scent suddenly brought back a memory of the kitchen in the old house where I grew up - and the scent of coffee cooking its merry way along in my Mom's percolator. I think of memory as being stored in my brain, and while I know that is true, the reality seems like it is sometimes stored in my nose! There are lots of scents that can bring me back to my New England childhood - the scent of strong brewing coffe -- the scent of newly mown grass -- smelling the sticky sweetness of cotton candy -- the tangy smell of burning leaves -- the scent of air in freshly washed sheets that have dried out-of-doors. Then there are the elementary school scents - library paste, purple mimeograph fluid, crayons.
My Great Uncle (who was more like a grandfather to me) always smelled like a mixture of tobacco and Aqua Velva.
The scent of gardenias will forever link to my high school prom. And that new-puppy-smell will always make me recall Princess, our black cocker spaniel.
My mother had a whole raft of scents by which I can recall her now, years after her passing. She loved several colognes. But her favorite was Yardley's African Violets. Yardley's stopped importing it years ago, but I found a store that sells it online .
Memory is so fluid. Here I am, sitting at my computer, and the smell of coffee briefly re-locates me back about 40 years as I type. If I didn't know better I would expect to next be inhaling the scent of violets as my Mother walked in the room.
I just checked my calendar. I have been thinking about this scent thing for a few days now. I am stunned to realize that my mother died 11 years ago February 24th -- the day I started thinking about scent and memory and her wonderful violet cologne.
Her name was Frances.