The Scents of a Memory

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Today is Monday.  Labour Day.  The kids go back to school tomorrow (which is good, because lately I have been feeling a little bit like “Miss Hannigan” from Annie).

I wish we had gone to the beach today, because I can feel cooler days creeping in.  I can also smell Fall coming. The scent of rotting leaves is starting to override the scent of roses and dill in the garden.

In the morning there is a crisper feel to the air that has replaced the heavy, rich, summer warmth.  In the evenings, the hum of crickets is getting a little “thinner”.  (I have to say though..those little fellas really “giv’er” all summer long out there.)

Last week, my oldest had a hockey camp, and I actually cracked a smile when we walked into the arena to the “smack” of locker-room stink and cold ice.

The same thing happened when I “popped” into the school two days ago – the smell of old books was like a harbinger of the school year to come.  And a reminder of the anticipation and excitement felt every September when I returned to school as a child.

Scents trigger my memory like nothing else.   I will stop dead in my tracks when a woman walks by wearing the same perfume as my Mom.  I will never forget that scent.  When I walk into my garden and the dill-weed blows up on the breeze, I feel like my Grandma is somewhere near.  The flavour and scent of raspberries takes me back to summers in my grandparents’ garden…a little girl, barefoot and gorging on endless rows of berries.

I can close my eyes in the mountains on a winter day, take a deep sniff of the pine scented air as it freezes my nostrils, and half of a lifetime of memories spent on ski hills comes rushing back.  Time drops away.  I am there in a memory.

I love “smell surprises” (no, not THOSE kind of smell surprises).  I mean the unexpected delight of pulling a set of sheets out of the bottom of the stack in the linen closet in the middle of the winter, and finding that they still smell summer-fresh-off-the-clothesline.  Maybe they were the last linens you hung out before the winter came.  It’s like summer has sent you a message:

Remember Me.

The other day I picked up some baby wipes that were on sale, to have in the van for spills and sticky hands.   A couple of years ago, after the twins were potty trained, I vowed I would never buy wipes again.  The funny thing is, as I was “panic dusting” the inside of my disgusting van (the smell of which I hope to someday forget) with baby wipes before picking up my sister-in-law at the airport, the smell took me back to those golden moments after a diaper change, when you can just stare into your baby’s eyes and get lost for hours.  The airport parking lot dropped away for a few seconds, and I was back in our tiny nursery, staring at the baby that I barely knew yet, but already loved so much.

Of course, I was jolted back to reality when that “baby” kicked the back of my seat with his size “4” Converse, because his brother had him in a a half-nelson on the floor of the van.

Thank goodness for our senses.  But today I am especially thankful for my sense of smell.  What a gift.  And I am grateful for all the beautiful, stinky memories that are associated with the “scents of my life”.

So here’s to Old Spice, line-dried linens, mildewy docks at the lake, pumpkin pies baking in the oven, Ponds Cold Cream, old musty cabins, wet dog fur, sweaty horse blankets, pine trees, ocean spray, cedar logs in a fire, baby wipes, hockey equipment, wool mittens covered in snow, sea spray, mowed grass, canola fields in mid-summer, patchouli & coconut scented suntan lotion…or whatever smelly scents remind you of the stories in your heart.

Be grateful. Take a deep breath.  Remember the good times, and enjoy the scents of the season – whatever season you may be in!

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