I would know the smell of my grandmother's house anywhere. It was a combination of the foods she cooked, my grandfather, and their Dalmatian. I thought it smelled wonderful. Unfortunately I can't catch the memory enough to actually remember remember it any longer, but I know I would recognize it in an instant if I smelled it again. Lately I've been wishing I could catch a whiff. I still miss my grandparents -- and Baron, the dog who pulled me in the wooden decorated dog cart that my grandfather had made.
Same for some of my other relative's homes. My aunt and uncle's home had a unique scent that incorporated the smell of his pipe tobacco. But try as I might, I can't quite capture it in my memory today, though I would know where I was, if I entered it blindfolded.
When College Girl and I were in Lucerne, several of the other people we were traveling with remarked about the strong scent of the tulips in the park along the water's edge. At that point, we hadn't walked in the park yet, and since I couldn't ever remember smelling tulips en masse, we walked over and about, both of us enjoying and smelling the huge array of tulips, and yes, they had a wonderful peculiarly green and wet bulb-y smell, mixed with the scent of the water which was close by. Growing up, we had only small amounts of tulips adorning the sides of our house and I had never noticed a scent. (We never brought them in the house either, where I would have been more likely to have smelled them.) And while Holland, Michigan, has a tulip festival, I had never been there. I had only seen pictures in the newspaper.
My mother had a green thumb, which I did not inherit. Every spring she would replant around the house. By contrast, I like to enjoy the fruits of other people's gardening -- no surprise since that is my childhood memory. She planted sweet alyssum up the walkways, and before you know it, they were profuse in color and in fragrance. One year, she'd plant white; the next, she would plant purple. The house where I spent my early childhood had lily of the valley at the side. I thought the shape and delicacy of the little bells were fascinating. I remember checking to see if they had come out yet.
Spring in Michigan was the time I broke out my lily of the valley scents, mostly Diorissimo, until the weather got hotter. I think what made it especially delightful was that it was worn in that particular climate with the scents of a Michigan spring all around -- forsythia, iris, tulips, lilac, new grass, new leaves. The scent was as bright as the flowers and folliage. Together the blend was unbeatable.
It doesn't smell the same on me here where there are no defined seasons per se, where it is green year round, and humid.
Funny, I don't remember what I wore for summer or fall, but in the dead of winter I wore Shalimar or Tabu. The Shalimar of today is a pale image of what it used to be. Then it was a knock-em-dead fragrance, but Tabu still takes no prisoners. They were good scents for the cold weather, with snow and scents of wood burning fires. A friend tells me that Shalimar smelled the best on her when she was still smoking, the blend of Shalimar with smoke...I believe it, as I got the same effect by wearing it in the winter, though not with cigarettes.
My mother usually wore one of two fragrances, Intimate by Revlon or Desert Flower by Shulton. Both were rich and heady on her, but not over powering. She probably had some No 5 too. She always smelled nice, even without perfume. And I liked the smell of our house, though again, the memory is only a dream of a waft.
People say my house smells good, but I'm so used to it, unless there is something out of the ordinary, I miss it.
What memories of fragrance do you hold in your mind's eye (nose)? Can you still catch them today or, like me, only if you were to be transported there? What made the strongest impression on you?
Originally posted 2007-03-27 06:06:20.