May 17, 2016

Smell Association



Helen Keller says, "Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived." Isn't that just beautiful?! It's the truth too. When I go for my daily walks around the neighborhood and the sweet smell of the lilac bushes envelops me, I get this goofy little grin on my face. It just makes me happy. Minnesota equals lilacs. So that got me thinking, what do the other states/places I've lived smell like? When a certain smell accosts me, what place do I immediately think of?


England smells like two things to me: fresh cut grass and diesel fumes. Every time a diesel truck drives past me, I'm whisked away to England where I lived as a child. 


Equally pleasurable is the scent of fresh cut grass clippings. This was the best toy in my make-believe world. I would spend hours arranging the grass clippings into floor-plans of houses IN FIRST GRADE! Who does this? 


Virginia is all about Honeysuckle. Mmmm...I can smell now. I remember a friend had a row of Honeysuckle bushes in her neighborhood that I HAD to go smell whenever they were in season. I was drawn to the honeysuckle like a moth to a flame. When I lived there again for a short while as an adult, that's the first smell I sought out. Ahhh....all's right in the world again. 


Connecticut also has two smells, both very personal to me. Whenever we visited my grandparents it was usually summer. We spent most of our time outside in the back yard. Sweet, fresh-cut grass always takes me back to their backyard. We swam in the little plastic Scooby-Doo pool they set up each summer for us. I think it had more grass clippings in it than water from our dirty little feet. We played bochie ball, whiffle ball games and had many, many family pot-lucks there as well. Good times.


Cigar smoke. Love it. My Grandfather used to smoke these down in the basement. My Grandmother hated the smell and exiled him to the basement. I loved spending time in the basement playing school, thus my love of the cigar.


Texas comes roaring back to life at me through the smell of the Texas Mountain Laurel. Chuck and I like to call it the Kool-aid tree cuz that's exactly what it smells like. We were first introduced to these in Nacogdoches at the school aboretum where we went to college, but gradually saw more and more in the Dallas area the longer we lived there. It looks similar to the vitex tree, which is rampant through-out Texas since it is so drought tolerant. But this smell...it makes you giddy with excitement.


Lastly, and probably surprisingly, the smell of Texas is also pine trees and pine needles. The Piney Woods covers the smallest portion of East Texas. We lived in the heart of it when we were in college at SFA in Nacogdoches. With the smell of pines, I'm instantly transported back in time and place. It is a very nostalgic smell for me. I don't think I appreciated it enough while I lived there, but I sure do now.
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