Monday, February 27, 2006

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.


Blogger Maggie Rose said...

quite amazing how mum can "be" with us, isn't it? be very gentle and thankful for those rare moments...well they are rare for me ;-)


6:06 AM  
Blogger samtzmom said...

How very wonderful that we have that scent memory which can invoke such lovely memories. No mistake that your mom was saying "hello." :c)

6:49 AM  

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