Monday, May 16, 2011

Olifactory Hard Wiring

On Saturday, I walked to and from the library with Anya.  On the way back, I briefly caught a whiff of something that reminded me of clay.  Not play-doh (though I like that), but the real thing—the earthy smell of the clay that I encountered in art classes when I was a kid.  I love that smell.  As I walked past it, I wondered at the fact that I hadn’t ever tried to work with clay or pottery, just to follow that smell.

That, of course, got me thinking about other smells: the smells that mark my everyday life, or lift my spirits, or bring me back to the past.  Below are just a few of them. 

Of course, since childhood I have loved the smell of musty old books, or any library book for that matter.  (See my post last November about the Benson.) 

The heady, sickly-sweet smell of lilacs always brings me back to my childhood.  This is partly b/c we had lilac bushes between our yard and one of the neighbors, but also b/c every Memorial Day, little kindergarten girls would get dressed up and walk in the town parade carrying lilacs.  (I’m the dark-haired girl with bangs.)

The smell of coffee, freshly brewed in a French press, is the smell of morning, of course. 

Then there are the food smells:
·         The smell of garlic sautéing promises savory delights.
·         Basil smells of summer and fresh, bright-tasting foods. 
·         Apples and squashes smell of fall with crisp days and cold, cozy nights.
·         I love the fact that it’s possible to tell when a cake is close to done by the way that the kitchen smells. 
The smell of the ocean almost always makes me feel at peace.  It’s a smell that feels like home.

I could go on and on.  Smells have such a strong emotional tug for us all.

What are the smells that give shape to your life?

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