My Three Scents

These are my three scents – three smells that each conjure up vivid double memories of events widely separated in time and place.

Last week’s entry here about smell maps kept me thinking for days of specific scents and the meaning that they have for me. I started a page in my note-book and soon had a list of fifteen or so. These are not just smells I recognise, they are scents that, when I smell them, have the power to transport me in time and space to a moment, a place, a feeling.

I imagine everyone carries within them a little smell library that will work this same magic. In fact, I’m fairly sure the library is what Kate McLean was tapping into in her Paris exhibition (described last week). Everyone will have a different set of scents, of course, and even if you and I include the same smell in our libraries, the memories it conjures up will be unique to each of us. Scent memories are very personal.

I spent so much time playing around in my scent library, I decided I really had to write this week’s article about some of them.

To try to limit myself (you know how I can ramble on given half a chance) I decided to restrict myself to smells that have two attached memories, and because this blog is about travel, I have chosen three smells that link two completely different times and places.

Green Apple
Chicken shit
Bitter almonds

So, those were my three scents. What are yours?


The original pictures for all the illustrations (including the portait of Jonas Gardell) are Creative Commons licensed from Wikimedia Commons

This article was written for the #Blogg52 challenge.

6 thoughts on “My Three Scents”

  1. Underbara minnen. Tänk vad dofter kan göra med oss. Äppelschampo, det hade jag också för många, många år sedan. När jag läste ditt inlägg kände jag doften av det och mindes hur jag stod i föräldrahemmets lilla badrum och tvättade håret, lutad över badkaret, medan någon av mina syskon bankade på dörren för att komma in. Minnen! Tack för att du förde mig tillbaka i tiden och tack för ditt underbara inlägg!

    Kram Kim 🙂

  2. Wonderful thought: smell-library! Of course, we all have that. I have gingerbreadcookies (pepparkakor) because that is how my dad smelled when I was very small. And oh, the smell of the first spring water from the melted snow that made small meanders in the sand at the side of the road on the way to school (first class)! And the third … there are so many … I take a new book (sorry, smell!). The smell in the back of the neck of our siamese cat then her boyfriend (who also happens to be a cat) has shewed on her fur in a loving way. His breath is not the best but he is ful of love.

    1. It’s a funny thing, Eva, how we mostly don’t think about these smell memories, but they are there just on the threshold of memory, and as soon as we concentrate on them a whole chain of recollection comes back. Love the association of gingerbread with you father. But the smell of meltwater in the sand by the road to school brings back my own memories of building water channels and dams in the woods – though there is no smell memory I associate with it. The scent of your cat’s neck was a new idea – I shall have to smell the neck of a cat when I next have the opportunity!

  3. Jag läste om äpplena. Vad roligt att du har ett meta minne av dem. Att du inte bara minns dina egna minnen utan också Gardells minnen som föll ihop med dina egna minnen av bussresan. Och i slutändan blev minnet ett minne av ett minne.

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