Scents & Memory


For our sixth Anniversary my main squeeze, Scott, delivered a huge assortment of flowers, herbs, and plants to our door.  We spent the day together reclaiming the garden from its cold winter sleep and planting the beautiful plants that Scott had brought home.
I was planting a patch of marigolds when I was hit with a strikingly vivid memory of my childhood:  My family lived with my great grandfather for a while when I was a little kid.  He was a great big man with great big ideas and great big ambition.  He was a stickler for tradition, etiquette, and getting things done the right way.  I was a crazed, over Marigoldimaginative, and inherently rebellious child.  Despite our differences he was my hero.  I was his under four foot shadow.  My Great Grandfather had fantastic garden’s surrounding the house.  Forests of Poppies engulfed the side patio while a beautiful Cherry Tree dropped it’s delicate blossoms on the veranda above.  In the backyard, the perimeter of the lawn was filled with cutting flowers.  There were always enough fresh flowers on hand to fill the house with their glorious aroma.  There was also a special place just for his prized rose bushes and a massive vegetable garden.  There were green herbs, berries on lattices, and bountiful ripe veggies as far as my little eyes could see.  My very first garden was a 2 by 4 foot square that he cut out just for me.  My younger sister had her own plot right next to mine.  He taught us how to sow seeds and reminded us to water every day.  I don’t remember much of what was in my garden, but I do remember my little sunset colored  marigolds.  The smell of their leaves brought this all back to me in the garden that day.

Science has established solid links between scent and memory.  It’s no surprise to me that the memories brought on by the sense of smell are often deeply emotional.  After all, my Great Grandfather passed away when I was seven years old yet the scent of a fresh marigold can still bring tears to my eyes.  What I found especially interesting during my study into the subject was the applications that this science may possibly be used for.  Studies have been made on Aromatherapy’s use in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and short term memory loss.  Studies have also been performed using aroma during sleep and study to increase the memories retention of new information.  Could it be that familiar aromas keep memory alive and functioning by refreshing these emotional connections?  So often our reminiscing is cut off by the demands that our every day lives.  Perhaps we are lucky that the emotional connection to our sense of smell forces us to remember our past, even when we least expect to.

Now that everyone knows the scent of a fresh Marigold can strike me with an emotional memory I’d like to invite all of you to share your most memorable scents.  What aromas evoke the most vivid memories for you?

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