Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Scent Memory

There are moments when scent triggers such profound memory.

There are the obvious ones - where a scent of a cologne or perfume can have us recall a past love or a departed relative or a past time in our own lives. Or when we know it is Thanksgiving because we can smell the appropriate amalgem of food-related scents.

Then, there are more abstract scents. For example, there is a rich, moist scent I call "green" - which is the scent of earth and evergreens and leafy trees and wide expanses of grass just after a summer rain in heat over 80 degrees.

But there are even fuller bodied scents - more complex, almost polyphonic, yet memory-specific. Today I stood in my kitchen getting corn out of the kettle where I had boiled some fresh Gold and Silver corn on the cob. The husks and tassles that I had peeled off were in the trash can not far away. It was the middle of the day and I had yet to turn on the airconditioner, so the air in the kitchen was somewhat warm, made more humid by the boiling of the corn. It was highly scent-conductive. There, on the counter was a quart of fresh strawberries. Outside my window, someone was mowing a lawn.

And there it was, the unmistakable scent of an inland Northern summer - part corn, part humid air, a bit of husks and tassles, a hint of sweet and ripe strawberry and a breath of new mown grass. It was the scent of decades of summers, years when a cocker spaniel frolicked at my feet, years when I chased butterflies in the fields across from our house. It was decades of Sandy and me getting ready to go to the pond, or Mom planning a picnic. It was bicycles and dungarees and transistor radios. It was the scent of innocense.

It only overtook me for a moment, but in that instant I was brought back to a compressed summary of all that had been fine as a bright summer's collage of the best days of my childhood.


Blogger samtzmom said...

Love your detailed description so much... it was as if I was there with you, smiling at the memories. You are such a talented writer, my friend.

7:18 AM  

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