Thursday, July 13, 2006

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is such an interesting story Ginnie. Guess I could say I have related to 'smell' over somewhat of a short time span but nothing to even come close to your experience.

Of all things, I guess there is perhaps one 'smell' and I can almost sit here typing this to you and conjure up that smell and that is the way the old cars of the 40s and 50s smelled when you got in them. Now ain't that the weirdest thing huh?

9:47 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Saz: I love your photo. You have such big ears! I am still working on the photo thing. All the best, Ginnie

4:02 PM  
Blogger Rach said...

Ginnie, what a powerful combination of elements coming together to invoke the memory. I hope they were happy memories. Smell works for me too - the smell of a certain type of sweet reminds me of medication I used to have to take as child - not a nice memory! Photos are powerful too and I know what you mean when you begin to almost "create" the memory from the photo.

6:14 AM  

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