What's that smell?
A nose into the past.
The smell of bacon has a way of arousing the sleepiest.
Cinnamon evokes a rush of hunger as Snickerdoodles emerge from the oven.
The slow cooker is the sneakiest of all, building layer upon layer of delicious smells driving us crazy until dinner finally hits the table.
We live in a world of smells, but science knows so little about how scents form or why they affect each of us differently. I won’t delve into the scientific jargon of neuroscience. But when we smell something, signals fly across our brain straight to the hippocampus—the place that holds our memories.
That explains why freshly mowed grass reminds me of late summer evenings lying on the ground looking up at the stars and moon. I can’t smell the moon.
I can’t even think about a pig without remembering the pungent odor of pig’s feet boiling in a pot of vinegar. My mother loved that delicacy. I could never move past the smell to even try. I wonder what I’ve missed.
Remember the scratch and sniff stickers of the 1980s where you could hold a picture, scratch, and then smell fresh-picked strawberries or what resembled that fruit. The effort to recreate smells always seems to fall short of the real thing.
I wonder if we have an entire generation who have tied their memories to artificial smells. Does that count as real, or is it imaginary?
Cookies fresh out of the oven, a hug that lingers with the aroma of Chanel #5, or the pungent odor of little boys after playing outdoors, a mixture of sweaty bodies and sunshine—those smells, we cannot replicate, only remember.
What memory will your nose pull you into today?
I wrote another six-word story inspired by the challenge "Hide and Seek," using a photo and not mentioning or stating the name of the hidden subject. I learned a lesson in humility.
If you want a little more info on the science of smell, try this brief article from the Harvard Gazette, “What the Nose Knows.”
Wake up and Smell the Roses, Natasha Bedingfield.
Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across a thousand miles and all the years we have lived. —Helen Keller
Find a little wonder this week.
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