This is one of those Florida days where it’s cloudy and windy and intermittently rainy, and when you look outside it seems like the kind of cozy day to stay in with the crockpot and cook something big.
But then you open the door to the porch and dank warm air envelops you.This set me to thinking about smells, which with all the humidity here, have way more heft than they do in New England.
According to the scientific lab at Google, smells roller skate right through your brain till they hit the olfactory bulb, connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, and this is the reason why a scent can jettison you right into past memories.
I have several favorite smell triggers:
Pre-catalytic converter exhaust fumes take me both to childhood long summer car trips to grandparents in Oklahoma and to a teenage year in London.
Once we’d made it to Tulsa, one of my favorite spots was the closet in my uncle’s old room where all his Pogo books had been stored. These were pre-air conditioning days, so now any dry corner of an old house takes me back to sitting on the floor surrounded by those riches of cartoons.
My kids have unknowingly gifted me memory scents. One Christmas my daughter gave me an aerosol room freshener that reminds me powerfully of my grandfather, the one dependable adult in my life. Looking back, I realize he must have worn some kind of lavender after-shave, pretty fancy for a matter-of-fact geologist and former Tennessee farm boy. My son gave me cologne one birthday, and as soon as I’d sprayed it I realized he’d probably chosen it without realizing it was a twin to one I wore years and years ago when he was a little boy.