You can read the brain physiology, but the connections between emotion and memory and smell are very tight.  It hit me the other night when I was using my snowblower on a freezing night with a scarf wrapped across my face.  It took me back to the three-hole facemask I wore as a kid.  That wet wool, frozen snot smell threw me to a memory.  So it made me think of other smells, emotions, and memories.

I’ve always said you can hear, see, or touch poverty – but you don’t understand it until you smell it.  In 1975, I was an exchange student to Ghana.  My first day on the street in the capital of Accra I met a young boy eating green mush from a chipped, white ceramic, double boiler pot.  I can see that scene as vividly as if it was yesterday.  If I get anything close to that smell it throws me to an emotional memory FORTY years ago.

There is a burnt electrical smell that jumps me to a fatal car crash where I was first on the scene that ended poorly for a couple souls.  Can see it like a motion picture.

I have some nicer ones – mom baking cookies, the bakery in our home town, my grandma’s flowers, cut alfalfa, and my granddaughter after a bath.  Those send me to good places.

They say the sense of smell often diminishes with age.  Maybe it’s to protect us from a lifetime of memories.  Or maybe it’s because WE start to smell.

2 thoughts on “Smells

  1. This really hit home as it was the sense of smell that first left my mother-in-law as she slipped into dementia. What a powerful sense and how it connects us to so many things, good and bad.

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