You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. [Walter Hagen]
Welcome to Wednesday. It looks as though we get our wish for more spring-like weather today, although unfortunately that means showers, too. I guess we need to be a little more specific in our collective intentioning, huh?
I look forward to the smells of spring – especially the lilacs. I know they won't be in bloom for a few months yet, but there's something about lilacs that make me just stop and inhale great lungsfull when I pass a bush in full bloom. A few years ago, our friend Betty introduced us to lilacs that bloom more than once a year. I can't wait for the dull grey of winter to succumb to the sweet green of spring.
I can't smell a lilac without thinking of my walk to school in Trenton. There were great bushes of lilacs and I'd pluck a few of the blossoms and suck the nectar out of the base of them. It's funny how smell and memory are so closely linked. Actually, it's biological, according to the website How Stuff Works:
A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people's moods and even affect their work performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain's limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it's sometimes called the "emotional brain," smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously.
Sometimes turning on a gas burner takes me immediately to my grandmother's kitchen. Her gas stove is where the best stuff – especially popcorn manually shaken over a metal plate – came from. On the other hand, if I smell pig poop, I'm taken to my other grandparents' farm where they raised pigs.
But back to nicer smells: coconut conjures happy thoughts of sunscreen and warm weather. A Cinnabon in the mall or subway station reminds me of the buns my mom made, and how incredible it was to walk into the house after school and smell those sticky treats.
Nothing makes my head turn faster that passing a woman wearing Shalimar, a perfume my mother wore in her younger years. When Mom had on Shalimar, she was getting ready to go out and undoubtedly was all glammed up.
But what brought me to today's journal is the simplest thing: a bar of Dove soap. When I was in St. Mike's 24 years ago this week, the Welcome Wagon or somebody like that gave me a “new mom” kit. There were probably a few diapers and maybe a can of formula or two or a mickey of vodka (kidding). But the only thing I know for sure that that kit contained was Dove soap. I used it the week I was in hospital waiting for our little yellow baby to put on some weight and turn a little pinker.
And so from that week on, I've forever linked that brand of soap with that event in my life. A place we stayed at last month had Dove soap for us to use and I kept what was left over of the bar. Now every day that I use it, I'm taken just for a split second to a moment that is wrapped in my heart in soft pink gauze: a ride we were just beginning that continues to sweeten with each passing year.
I do love the smell of bacon, but I'm not sure even it can pull off that wonderful trick.
Thanks for coming by. Okay, now I'm thinking about bacon. Great. What one smell gives you a happy flashback? Send me a few lines and I'll share them in a journal here. I like your stories, too.