The Power of SMELL….my first memory
I have tried very hard to recall my early days but I honestly don’t know what I can actually remember as opposed to those things that were retold so many times in my family that they seem to be MY memories.
I am not able to go back much further than when I was 6 or 7 years old. The years before that seem to be lost to me...except for this amazing experience. I have heard that the primary sense is that of smell...and I can attest to that. When I was very young the whole gang of us went to Brattleboro, Vt. to visit my mother’s family. I know this is true because we have pictures to prove it and it is also recorded in my Aunt Emma’s diaries. I must have been 3 or 4 at the time and I have no conscious memory of that visit.
HOWEVER...many years later I became aware of a very strange smell...it seemed to be a combination of three odors, the pungent smell of new sawn lumber, the slightly gamey smell of lamb being roasted in the oven and the almost sickly sweet smell of maple syrup bubbling on the stove. I was immediately transported to the kitchen of my grandparents in Brattleboro. The sensation was so strong that I felt like I could reach out and touch them...and I actually remembered being there. It was a swift but powerful memory and then it receded almost as quickly as it came.
The interesting thing is that Grandpa was a carpenter and had a wood-working shop and lathe in a large room off of the kitchen. They also had a “sugaring-off” business and would tap the maple trees and boil the sap into syrup on the wood stove in the kitchen...the smell of lamb being roasted?? Perhaps that was the special meal being prepared for our visit.
Whatever it was, I have only smelled that combination three times in my 74 years and each time it has pulled me back to that warm and loving kitchen of my childhood.