I visited a pre-school the other day and things were a little different to when I was a three year old some
forty (mumble) years ago. There were i-Pads, for one thing, and funky looking climbing frames that looked like someone of my advancing years could well get stuck in.
But one thing was exactly the same as it had always had been and it set off an explosion of memory. It was the smell. It was a mix of hot sun on linoleum and the aroma of paint and crayons and sweaty sneakers, and the disinfectant that in my day Miss McTaggart used to mop up any "accidents". As soon as I recognised those familiar smells they were immediately followed by powerful memories of fun and friendship.
And it got me thinking about the power of smells in my life - the heady aroma of the first coffee in the morning - rich and mellow and warm. The smell of much needed rain on my parched garden - sweet and toasty and fresh.
And then there's the seductive power of a perfume bottle. Maybe it's because my husband's a winemaker - a man whose nose is his livelihood-that he loves to buy me perfume. He was the very first person to buy me a bottle almost thirty years ago. I remember it was "Paris" by Yves St Laurent and every time I smell it I still I get those same warm feelings as I did all those years ago. I tend to change my scent every year or two. My favourites in recent times have been "Allure" by Chanel and "L'eau d'Issey" by Issey Miyake. Right now I'm wearing "Flash" by Jimmy Choo and it has to be one of my all-time favourites.
What about you? Are there scents that hold particularly strong memories for you? Places or perfumes?
I can't think of any scents that link to particular memories for me. However, I do love perfume. My favourites at present are Lolita Lempicka Midnight Couture/Eau de Minuit (can be difficult to find), Lolita Lempicka Lolita Lempicka and La Prairie Midnight Rain.ReplyDelete
I do consider the Lolita Midnight perfume my lucky perfume though - I was wearing it for my one and only job interview for post-graduation jobs and I got the job.
Unfortunately most of the time my perfume preferences are at the more expensive end of the scale.
I hear you on the expensive thing, Lyn! I've never heard of the Lolita perfumes so I'm going to hunt them out. You've just reminded me that very early in my writing career I wrote a book with a hero who owns a Turkish Delight company and a heroine who's a parfumier. I had lots of fun researching smells for that. Maybe I should dig it out and give it a polish :)Delete
The Lolita perfumes are difficult (read not usually sold) to find in NZ unless you check TradeMe. I usually buy them from Strawberry Net.Delete
That book sounds good - has it been published?
I think its so sweet, Barb, that your man bought you your first bottle of perfume! Whenever I smell Brut it always takes me back to the days when my hubby and I were first in love - still gives me all the tingles in all the good places :-)ReplyDelete
As far as smells go, this may seems a weird one to others but hospitals smell the same the world over and while many people dislike the anaeseptic smell of them to me, as a nurse, it feels so comforting. It makes me feel safe as soon as I step through the door. Told you it was weird ;-)
Amy, you're absolutely right about hospitals! I hadn't spent much time in them until I had my kids but like you, the smell reminds me of safety and comfort and efficiency :) Oh, Brut! Yes!!! And Blue Stratos. And when I was little we used to wear 4711 and Babe. :)Delete
So many smells trigger memories for me, Barb. When it comes to perfume it's Clinique's Aromatics Elixir that takes me straight back to the first few years with my hubby. Happy times. I don't wear it any longer, but my nose twitches when a woman wears it anywhere in the vicinity.ReplyDelete
And who doesn't love the smell of baby powder and go all gooey?
I don't know that Clinique fragrance, Claire, but I'm going to hunt it out now :) And yes to baby powder, and the rose scented "blotting papers" my grandmother used to combat a perspiring forehead. You've also reminded me that we got married in a medieval herb garden and every time I smell rosemary or lavender I think of that day.Delete
Great post, Barb! Sense of smell is such a big trigger for memory, isn't it! One of the scent memories that leaps to mind for me is the smell of toast on a frosty morning. I get the clearest picture of my granddad holding a piece of bread on a toasting fork into the flames of the wood stove in their big old kitchen.ReplyDelete
And the smell of sheep reminds me of going around to farms with Granddad while he worked. I loved the school holidays that I spent with my grandparents!
And Sharon, now you've brought the EXACT same memories back for me! My Grandad did exactly the same thing with a triangle toasting thingy that he held in the old coal range. I wonder where your grandparents' farm was. My was right down the bottom of the South Island. The smell of Christmas trees always reminds me of the great holidays we had on their farm too.Delete
Yep, one of those long handled toasty thingos, Barb! I bet your grandparents got some savage frosts down south! My grandies lived near Rangiora just out of Christchurch. Not actually on a farm but Granddad was a "fat lamb buyer" for the meat works - I used to tag along when he did his rounds. I still remember how he could count the sheep as they stampeded through the gates, pushing and shoving and leaping all over each other.Delete
Ah, and now you've given me more memories, Sharon! I used to stand all day watching Granddad count the sheep in the yards and then when I went to bed at night and closed my eyes all I could see was sheep. Memories are an amazing thing. Lots of my rellies worked at the Rangiora meatworks :)Delete
I too get a lot of memories when I smell certain things like the smell of fresh mowed grass always brings back memories of Sundays at home when I was young and the smell of a roast dinner cooking makes me think of my Mum and all the Sunday roasts we had and of course certain perfumes will remind me of friends and family that always used them at the moment I am using Beautiful as my perfume of choice :)
We've had a big family dinner today, Helen, and you've reminded me what strong memories I associate with cooking smells :) And Beautiful has been one of my fragrances too!Delete
Lovely post! The smell of fresh rosemary reminds me of my dad, he has huge bushes of it in his backyard and he'd always cook with it. Dior's Hypnotic Poison was the scene I wore all through university around the time I met my husband, and every time I wear it now it takes me back to those carefree, no-responsibility days.ReplyDelete
I love the image of your dad's backyard, Stefanie. The best thing about rosemary is that every time you brush against it you get that overwhelming fragrance. My flatmate always wore Poison and every time I walk past someone with it on I think of her :)ReplyDelete