Thursday, October 18, 2007

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 actually can 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 shop and wood 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 73 years and each time it has pulled me back to that warm and loving kitchen of my childhood.

10 Comments:

Blogger Anvilcloud said...

That's almost amazing. I don't seem to have any experiences like that.

3:21 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I can attest to that, Ginnie, as certain aromas can transport me as well. Fried chicken takes me back home to my mom's house, and lavender or Tweed perfume can make me think my grandmother is nearby.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

The sense of smell truly is very powerful, I've had things like this happen often. I'll be going along with my day, the aroma of something will catch me, and before I know it I'm transported to some other time and place with almost total recall. Amazing, isn't it?

4:02 AM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

The kitchen is definately where everything happens I believe, and it is so important to have that one special place in the home. So much is shared in this area..so many unbelievable things...more than just cooking and dishes :)

6:19 AM  
Blogger KGMom said...

You are absolutely right that among the 5 senses, smell is the most evocative of memory.
Thanks for sharing this.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Bud said...

The only smell I remember was the first day of school smell. Now if booze counts I could go on forever.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Maya's Granny said...

I once smelled a baking gooseberry pie, a very rare thing in my experience, and immediately had a memory of being very young, in a kitchen with a little black kitten and rain pouring on the roof.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Chancy said...

Speaking of earliest memories, I could swear I still remember the taste and smell of the "sugar tit" that my Mother gave me as a baby to quiet my colic. It was a piece of gauze filled with sugar and soaked in whiskey.

Yum.....

8:29 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Jacobs said...

Watermelon's smell takes me back to when we children sat under the plum tree to eat slices of watermelon. There was a water faucet there, with a small slatted-wood platform hugging the ground, presumably to keep people from getting muddy when the water splashed onto the ground.

The other smell memory is my grandmother's hyacinths growing along the side of the garage (on the coalbin side). Those flowers were next to my sandbox, installed there by my daddy when we moved into Grandma's house after she died.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Jacobs said...

Ginnie, here's my smell memory post: http://bonniesbooks.blogspot.com/2008/04/memories-evoked-by-smells.html

I used my earlier comment (above) and have added a bit about damp sand. Thanks for the memories!

6:03 AM  

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