It has often been suggested that we “stop and smell the roses.” It’s also been suggested that “ain’t nobody got time for dat!” If you’re
anything like me you’re just too busy, or don’t particularly care for the smell of roses.
Not to worry! There is a whole world of fragrances out there that our much underappreciated sense of smell can introduce us to.
The olfactory gland is actually a specialized piece of brain tissue! It is also closely linked with the mechanisms of memory and emotion.
Olfaction is the sensory modality that is physically closest to the limbic system, of which the hippocampus and amygdala are a part, and which
is responsible for emotions and memory. Indeed this may be why odor-evoked memories are unusually emotionally potent
Because we encounter most new odors in our youth, smells often call up childhood memories. But we actually begin making associations between smell
and emotion before we're even born.
Now, there are plenty of things we all love or hate to smell. But I’d like to focus on some of the more quirky pleasures and displeasures of the
nose—and most importantly, what memories they are associated with.
I actually have a poor sense of taste and smell now after years of chemotherapy—only too late did I realize what a treat our sense of smell is!
So, what smells do you like? What fragrances would you like to see captured in a Yankee Candle? Which ones can’t you stand? Include the memory
association if it applies.
When I was in kindergarten I had to fight the irresistible temptation to eat play-doh. I never did find out what it tasted like, but the smell was
intoxicating and appetizing! (On that same note, certain kinds of fish bait pastes would produce a similar effect because of the smell and the
colorful, doughy texture.)
My memory of the fish bait and its distinct, savory smell remind me of the few times I went fishing with my dad and older brother—and how it was
something I’d always hoped to do more often with them (a desire, unfulfilled.)
Whether mowing grandma’s yard early in the morning, or playing outfield in little league, freshly cut grass is a favorite childhood smell of mine.
It was a reminder that there were still many summer days left to roll around in.
Usually the smells of a gas station are something that should be avoided like…well, a smelly gas station. But on those long road trips through the
deserts of the American southwest, there is nothing more complimentary to the dry desert air than a waft of gasoline. Be sure to spill a little on
your shoes while topping off the tank for that bold smell of many miles put behind you (not recommended. And neither is huffing!)
Now for a couple smells that I greatly disapprove of, even though everybody else seems to love them!
Line-dried laundry! Yuck—it smells like Mother Nature came home drunk and urine-soaking and decided to sleep on my sheets for a few hours. I know
all the older folks love the smell of air-dried laundry, but it is something I just cannot abide. For my mother and grandmother, it is a smell of
simpler times. For me, it is a smell that makes me feel like I need a shower.
So, what’s the deal? Is anybody else smelling the funk that I smell when I take a whiff of air-dried laundry?
Coffee is a smell that truly makes me nauseous! Why, you ask? There is a strong memory-link between the smell of brewing coffee and my cancer
treatment. Everyday: morning, noon, and night, there would be a brewing pot in the hospital lounge. It’s not hard to see how I began to associate
the smell of coffee with the effects of my cancer treatments. To this day, a brewing pot of coffee makes me gag.
I’m curious to see what odd and unconventional smells you like and dislike—and what vivid memories are attached to them. I can’t wait to see
what you folks have to say on the subject!
edit on 23-7-2013 by NarcolepticBuddha because: (no reason given)