The smell of sweet peas reminds me of my son’s birth when the neighbor brought over a huge armload of flowers from his garden. Given that I was overwhelmed by hormones and lack of sleep, his simple kindness made me cry. A whiff of chicken and dumplings with plenty of sage reminds me of my grandmother and, depending on my state of mind, it sometimes moves me to tears too. I miss her still and I only use Ivory Liquid dish soap because the smell reminds me of her.
Here’s a piece of technical trivia: Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of our brain, which also happens to be the seat of emotion. It’s no wonder smells bring up feelings, and those feelings will be different for every one of us.
The smell of the ocean is the smell of home.
The smell of diesel exhaust makes me smile. It reminds me of my first trip to England.
Wood smoke makes me nostalgic. It reminds me of camping with my kids when they were young.
A whiff of hairspray brings a wave of anxiety.
The smell of mandarin oranges is the anticipation of Christmas.
The smell of Earl Grey tea reminds me of my grandfather.
Licorice is the smell of freedom. It reminds me of ouzo and a beach in Greece.
The scent of chlorine takes me to childhood swimming lessons which makes me panicky.
The smell of rain makes me want to read.
The waxy smell of crayons brings an ‘anything’s possible’ feeling.
Corn dogs bring on a wave of nausea (don’t ask).
The scent of Love’s Baby Soft perfume takes me back to high school.
And the smell of anything baking – sweet, savoury, or savoury-sweet – makes me calm.
What smells do it for you?