The Amazing Sense of Smell

By Rachel Hoeing

I remember when my daughter was younger and she had received a Strawberry Shortcake doll for her birthday. The moment I picked it up and inhaled the scent, it immediately took me back to my childhood. That strawberry smell (that actually smells nothing like strawberries) is embedded in my brain as a reminder of childhood happiness.

It is amazing how a simple smell can transport you to specific time and place and can quickly give you that warm feeling of comfort. I think it is so important to teach our kids how to literally “stop and smell the roses!” My mom always picked Honeysuckle with us and let us taste it. Even to this day as I am walking past a Honeysuckle bush, it reminds me of my childhood and brings a smile to my face.

The other day I picked up my daughter from a birthday party at a gymnasium, and as soon as I opened the door I was taken back to my days as a baton twirler. (Don’t laugh at me for being a baton twirler!) There is a distinct smell to those dance studios and gyms, and I told my daughter to stop and smell. Of course she thought I was weirdo as she proclaimed that it was stinky (yes, it does smell a bit like feet and sweat), but they’ll see what I’m talking about one day!

Speaking of baton twirling, I still cannot smell Aqua Net hairspray without thinking of my days in elementary school when we would have baton competitions. I think there was a permanent cloud of Aqua Net stuck in the air in the changing rooms, and I can’t help but laugh when I smell it.

My grandmother lived across the street from her church in Pennsylvania, and we always went with her to light candles in memory of relatives who had passed away. There was a certain smell when we entered that old stone church and every once in a while I smell that same scent here as I enter my own church. It automatically transports me back to a time where I would kneel next to my Nana and watch her light candles in prayer.

In fifth grade I wrote a report on dolls. We were required to make index card notes from our reference books. I think I worked on this for a full month. I used a blue Bic erasable pen to take notes, and doggone it if I don’t think of my report on dolls every time I use one of those!

We go through Chapstick like crazy in this house. My son always asks to buy the pink, but it is standard that we have to buy the black. Why? My dad used the black tube of Chapstick every day growing up. I can still picture the little spot on our countertop where he kept it, and I love, love, love that smell.

Lever 2000 soap will always be a reminder of 2nd floor Eggers dorm at ASU. My mom had bought me enough soap to last three years when she sent me off to college, and it was Lever 2000. I cannot smell that clean scent without thinking of my freshman year of college as we sang songs while showering on the hall in our dorm and got ready for a night out in Boone!

Remember scratch and sniff stickers? My mom saved my sticker collection from my childhood days. We found it a few months ago and I soon as I opened the book that overwhelming smell of root beer floats and bananas came rushing back to me. I sat there and “scratched and sniffed” every single sticker in that album and smiled with each one.

Then there are the certain smells that you can’t describe, but they touch your heart immediately. Like the smell when I open my grandmother’s old hutch that now holds all my china. Or the smell of the asphalt when it starts raining on a sunny day. Or the way my kids smell when they come in from playing outside. Or that smell of a baby’s nursery. (minus the diaper pail!) And of course the smell of a campfire or a charcoal grill.

Homemade pasta sauce – my Italian grandmother, oil-popped popcorn – my mom, Red Door perfume – my friend Kathleen, stale beer – games of beerpong in my husband’s apartment in college, Banana Boat after-sun lotion – highschool spring break, freshly cut grass – my dad’s impeccable lawn we had while growing up, birch beer – my Poppop Hess, dark stone alleyways – my grandmother’s basement, Abercrombie & Fitch Cologne – the years of dating my husband, any Aveda products – my sister … my list goes on and on.

Remind your children to smell all those glorious smells around them and delight in the comfort they each bring. I would love to hear what memories our readers have from your amazing sense of smell.

 

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