Sense of smell

Who can deny the scent of a rose? Among the senses, the olfactory memories are rooted deeply, primitively in an area of our brain. Scent and the recognition of familiar and known is the basic building block of immunity and defense. From the origins, scent has given direction, territory is marked and tracks are laid. But, tethered to scent are powerful memories. I can close my eyes and conjure the verdant almost dank, mossy smell of the slate pathway behind the garage at my Granny’s house on Tuscaloosa Street. The damp, earthy loam in that cool recess where I played with roly poly bugs reminds me of being small. My Granny’s house was in a town with a papermill, a smell most people curse. I associate that smell with going to see Granny and Meemaw. It is a smell of home coming, family and a sense of joy. On Saturdays of my childhood, my sister’s and I would go to work with my dad. That drive always included the heavy smell of the Holsum bread factory. Anyone who lived in Miami in the 1970’s knows shares this memory. Who can deny to instant recall of a perfume, the faint scent of a lover’s cologne of a left behind shirt. It floods our minds with images and feelings of long ago embraces. Every mother inhales the truly unique smell of her infant child, sure and certain of their bond. Something in those scent molecules is the recognition of similar. I think of some of my most cherish memories and they revolve around scent: about 30 minutes after a summer sunshower on hot asphalt, bedsheets line dried, the folded leaves of the bottle brusg tree, sauteed onions, almond extract used in Spritz cookies will always be the smell of Christmas, fresh cut grass, charcoal from the old fashioned grills and the chlorine of a summer swimming pool. So many, too many to list. The memories roll out of my neuronal filing cabinet. I shall go linger over the fresh out of the oven coconut macaroons.

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