This week I’m building my posts around the five senses. Monday I used the sense of touch. Yesterday I used the sense of taste in my post about cooking. Today, I consider the sense of smell.
I walk up the sidewalk to the porch of the red brick building. It’s hot, in the 90s, and muggy. The humidity seems to bring out the odors around me, and I smell the boxwood near the porch.
The smell of boxwood outside my doctor’s office on a summer day takes me back.
Do smells ever evoke memories in you? Research shows that they can.
An example of this for me is the scent of that boxwood.
We had boxwood at my first home, where I lived until I was 10. One was a huge, thick one at the corner of our front yard.
In that front yard is where I often played cars with my second brother, who was two years older than me.
He had lots of Hot Wheels. I didn’t have any of my own, but he loaned me his lesser cars so we could play together.
Between two oak trees, where grass wouldn’t grow (or maybe didn’t grow because we played there so often), we built roads in the dust for our cars. We each claimed a tree.
I had my house up in the roots of one of the trees. I created long meandering driveways to the house. I scratched lines in the dust with a small stick, and then looked for seeds to place along the lines for a garden.
There were some soft green seeds we found in the yard, and those were my watermelons.
I was the only girl in my family. My brothers wouldn’t play dolls or house with me, but I could play cars or sports with them.
I found a way while playing with cars to also play house.
When we moved, we took some of the boxwood with us. My parents planted them in front of the house, around the carport, the front porch and the flowers on either side.
It was my job to water them every night until their roots were set. That meant filling up a gallon bucket from the water hose and pouring it on each bush.
It was boring work that took a while, so to make things more fun, I named each of the shrubs. I named them in alphabetical order, so the first one was named with an A name, the second with a B name, and so on.
I don’t remember the names now, but I remember that they were all girl names. And since I loved making up names for my future children, and often used the names of characters from books I enjoyed, the names were probably something like Amelia, Betsy, Catherine, Daisy, Emily, etc.
I never had children to receive those names, but I had fun making up the names and weaving stories around them.
Those are pleasant memories. Of course, smells can evoke unpleasant memories, too. There is a certain perfume that, when I smell it, takes me right back to my first year in college, when I started my real struggle with depression. Those feelings of isolation momentarily surround me again.
What smells evoke memories in you?