The aromas of percolating coffee and toasting bread awaken me. I know what those scents mean. My dad hasn’t left for work yet. Great! I'll see him off. I run into the kitchen. “Hey.” He smiles. . .
Decades later, Dad is gone. But whenever I smell fresh coffee and toast, he appears before me. He stands in the old kitchen, folding his bread and dunking it into his cup.
Not only does our sense of smell give us the pleasure of tasting what we eat, but, more than any other sense, smell vividly brings back our earliest memories. For more on this subject, read Natalie Angier’s article: The Nose, an Emotional Time Machine.
Here are some of the smells that pave the lane of my memory:
- Pablum. Baby brothers and sister.
- Waxy milk cartons. Kindergarten--milk & cookies.
- Beefaroni. School lunches
- Wheat paste. Robin Connelly. Making Russian dolls out of paper mache with my grade school friend. We run out of flour and experiment with milk powder. (Doesn't work).
- Diesel fuel exhaust. My Nonna’s (grandmother’s) house in Philly. City buses pass as we sit on her stoop, chatting till late with the neighbors. Then, in bed, I lie awake and watch the light from passing buses slide across her walls.
- Lemony Jean Nate toilet water. Again, Nonna.
- Beer, root beer, raw clams. Trecroce family reunions.
- Cinnamony apple crisps. My mom and the first summer in our new house. Visions of busted walls and plaster, us peeling mountains of apples, making apple crisps in the midst of the kitchen being remodeled.
- Lemon Pledge and Pinesol. Mom, again, and a fresh, clean house.
- Cider. Dad pressing apples (we had apple trees) and some bees.
- Marshy, salty sea air. Wildwood, N.J. Family vacations. I hear seagulls whining, waves tumbling.
- Noxema. Red lobster sunburn, day 2 of every vacation. Cheap rooms. Noxema on the bedsheets.
- Garlic, lots of it fried in lots of oil. Accordion lessons in the home of my instructor's Italian mama.
- Stale ice cream freezer air. My first job, scooping ice cream and making cakes at Baskin Robbins.
- Oil paint, linseed oil, turpentine. My twin sister. It's after midnight, and we're still down the basement painting, listening to mellow tunes on the radio.
- Ouzo. Also, that stale clothes smell that results from stuffing too many articles into the washer. Peter (dating).
- Dried mountain herbs, wild oregano. Greece.
- Simmering tomatoes. Alex.
- Grilling meat. Dorian
- Ginger. Selma
- STR8 & Voltaren. Peter (married). His cologne and the stinky muscle cream he uses before soccer.
Did you know you give off a smell to God? A person that has accepted His Son, Jesus Christ, as their Savior gives off a sweet smell.
What are some of your most fragrant memories?
art by L. Trecroce