Thursday, October 29, 2015

The scent of a memory



As the stinging scent of onions lingered in the air and a cold draft blew in from the kitchen window, I was transported back about thirty years. I could see the onions sizzling on a well oiled pan. The lid of the old fashioned enamel stove was propped open and leaning against the white tiled wall. The cold air blew in from the kitchen door that had been left open, just a crack. The children ran up and down the side courtyard screaming and laughing. I was one of them.

There I stood this morning, in my own kitchen but at the same time in my grandmother's narrow, drafty kitchen in Santiago, Chile. I was ten years old and I had no care in the world other than playing with my cousins and making sure not to step on the delicate grass my grandmother took such good care of all year long.  Every summer break I spent about two months in a cold wintery Chile. It was a memory that I had not recalled in many, many years. This morning however, while preparing for my little one's lunch, I was transported simply because of the mixture of a cold drafty breeze and some sizzling onions. Our sense of smell is so powerful! 

Did you know that smell is more closely linked with your memory, more so than any of our other senses? Have you ever been transported back in time by the scent of a woman's lingering perfume or the smell of a certain food that reminded you of a certain time of your life? It's incredible what the sense of smell can do. It can jog our memory so much so that we literally feel that we have traveled back in time. 

Smell not only jogs our memory but it is also strongly connected to our emotions. The perfume industry knows this very well. They profit from it. Our sense of smell is so powerful it can motivate us or even deter us from doing something. It can draw us closer to someone or make us run in the other direction. 

The beauty of the sense though is that it carries with it a memory, an emotion. It can trigger a flood of emotions in just a second. Stop by the perfume counter and you will see what I mean. Our bodies are truly amazing. Smell is something we really don't think about. In many ways we take it for granted until pow! It triggers a memory from the past and we realize, wow! What power our senses have!

...The square red tiles were tracked with mud as we swished passed her, darting through the kitchen door. She had chased us out with her now dripping wet mop. She swirled it around and mumbled under her breathe as she always did when she got upset. She then poked her head out the window that was right above the stove, where the onions were sizzling. She gave us one final warning but she did it with a smirk. She was delighted we were all there, despite the mud and the screaming and the running in and out of the kitchen. We continued about our very important business of playing until it was time for lunch.  Lunch was an important affair. We would sit down for a long drawn out meal. How I miss those times. How I miss my grandmother. 

All that from some onions and cool air. Go figure. What scent has jogged your memory of late?

7 comments:

  1. Involontary memory in link with smell, noise, touch... You are totally in Marcel Proust's madeleine, I like it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I came across his name. Fascinating!

      Delete
  2. I often have experiences like this, where a scent will bring back vivid memories of past experiences. I have been trying to remember at least one to share, but I just can't come up with one! But I love it. I always think it is one of the most amazing things. Our brains really are fascinating. And I get even more amazed when I think about how God made us like that on purpose. It's really so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cannot even believe how intricate our bodies are. I promise you Anne, I literally went back in time. I could not believe how powerful the experience was. I have had it happen to me so many times but this one was filled with joy. I think it's God's little gifts of consolation to us.

      Delete
  3. Traveling back to my childhood many times by the smell of lavender which I love to use now with most of my amenities. Most of all is the smell and taste of varieties vegetables bring me the very moments of incredible vivid scene like yours. Great to read your blog, it is very inspiring, enlightening and praise to God that you have sent me so much more comfort in my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a blessing you are. Thank you for your words. I am glad that my words can bring comfort. That is my only purpose. Pray for me. I will pray for you!!!

      Delete
  4. Traveling back to my childhood many times by the smell of lavender which I love to use now with most of my amenities. Most of all is the smell and taste of varieties vegetables bring me the very moments of incredible vivid scene like yours. Great to read your blog, it is very inspiring, enlightening and praise to God that you have sent me so much more comfort in my life.

    ReplyDelete