Jan Feb March 2015Parsonage Parables

Smells

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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