The sense of smell often acts like a time machine. Unique, often incidental smells unlock powerful emotions that often send me back in time to forgotten memories, good and bad. I have been thinking a lot about memorable odours as of late.
A trip into the
Freak Lunch Box with my boys sent me time traveling to Boniface's store, a cigar and
candy store in Ingersoll, Ontario, that I used to frequent as a five and
six year old. Suddenly, I could envision the glass bottles, the pitch
and the creaking of the hard wood floor. and the pipe smoking gentleman
who patiently took my dime in return for candy. I can also recall the
the sense of excitement of being allowed to go there unaccompanied by an
It was the extreme boundary of my independence.
Exploration beyond the store was not permitted. Up Caroll, down King,
past Mill and Water to the top corner of Thames Street. I was always
tempted to cross the road at Mill Street at the entrance of Memorial
Park and go for a slide.
While taking pictures of the
tidal action at Middle Cove, a sudden whiff of fresh salty water and
mist set off reverberations of how clean the harbour in St. Bernard's
smelled when I was a young boy. It is a kind of damp, fresh smell that
always accompanied a nice natural tidal flush.
A trip to
Afterwards used bookstore always makes me feel warm inside. The enduring
smell of old books reminds me of those days when mom would let me go
down to Sammy Parrot's house on the other side of the harbour for books.
Sammy, a lot older than me, was a fervent reader of science-fiction.
He lived with his aging parents, George and Olive. He was as close to a
shut-in as I knew. However, he hoarded books. Every now and than he
would give me a garbage bag full of paperbacks. I looked forward to
going down their. I will always associate the musky smell of old paper
with Sammy's kindness.
Than there are those occasional
evocative memories like the smell of stale tobacco which brings back
memories of Father Bennett's breath and hanging out at the parish house
reading comics and National Geographic.
Why is smell
so linked to memory? Why do some scents unlock forgotten memories
thrusting you back in time with such vivid recall. How does smell become
associated with people, places, events and experiences?
all comes back to our individual CPU - our brains and our unique
memories. Apparently, our olfactory bulbs are designed to interact with
the parts of the brain that store our emotional memories.
Who says we can not time travel, now if only I could change a few things on these trips!