The Aromas of Childhood
Did you know that our sense of smell is our most powerful sense? One reason is that smell and memory are closely linked. This is because the olfactory nerve is located very close to the area of the brain that is connected to the experience of emotion as well as emotional memory. In addition, the olfactory nerve is very close to the hippocampus, which is associated with memory, thus, the experience of the sense of smell evoking a memory.
Whenever I catch the scent of lilacs blooming in the spring, it reminds me of my Grandma Kramlinger. Grandma kept a beautiful garden, and her lilac bushes were her pride and joy. She not only had lilac-colored bushes, but also white, blue, dark purple, lavender, and pink-colored blooms. The blossoms had a fragrant odor and were so cheerful to look at. As soon as you came upon her house, the aroma would drift all around you, assailing your senses with the sweet smell of springtime. On Sundays, Grandma would always arrive at our house for Sunday dinner, her arms laden with lilac blossoms, and she’d say to my mother, “Here’s something to grace the table.”
Now whenever I smell lilacs in the springtime, I wonder if the lilac bushes still bloom in her garden, and if the people who live in her house now are still enjoying their sweet fragrance.
My other favorite smell which I find comforting is that of cookies baking in the oven. This particular aroma brings back childhood memories of my mother baking cookies in our kitchen. She always seemed to bake the cookies especially on the frigid Minnesota winter days when it was too cold for us children to play outside. The delectable sweet aroma of the cookies baking would waft through the house, making our mouths water with eager anticipation for that first bite. I remember how difficult it was, always having to wait because Mom would say, “You have to wait until the cookies cool off first.” We’d all wait patiently until she’d hand them out, one by one, and we were never disappointed with our first taste.
There are other fragrances and aromas that I enjoy, but it is these two that I mentioned above that make me smile and remember the nostalgic days of my youth, and yes, also make me wish sometimes that I could return there for just a little while.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.” ~ John Betjeman