Thursday, December 24, 2009

Article #84 Smells of the Past

Can you think of one smell that signifies your memories of the past? To me it is sagebrush-a pungent sweet distinct smell that always recalls UTAH and my childhood. Moving to California as I did when 10 years old, I always looked forward to our trips home across the Nevada desert. With my first smell of sage, I knew home was near and my loving grandparents. We came to visit almost every deer season and I loved being in the outdoors as my family prepared to go hunting in the lovely fall weather or collecting pine cones from pinyon trees among the sagebrush. Even today when I return from vacations, I get a thrill when I smell sagebrush when it starts to appear along the sides of the road, for my destination––my home is close.

Other distinct smells of the past were grandmother’s fresh homemade bread, rolls or pies hot out of the oven. Just walking inside her house, I could smell her love in the aroma that greeted us. It didn’t take long for grandma to serve her finest roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy––a traditional meal for family reunions or for any special occasion. When I make dressing for turkey that same distinct sage smell fills me with longing for the good old holidays.

Lilacs are another smell that reminds me of the past. It is a popular flowering bush that both of my grandparents had growing in their yards. They are so pretty and so fragrant. Then there was the cheap perfume from the dime store that my grandma always wore, and grandpa’s Old Spice aftershave. Either of these smells nowadays takes me instantly back to earlier times.

Smells of Christmas are comforting. Our family tradition was always to have our own fresh cut Christmas tree to decorate. Hunting in the mountains of Utah for the perfect tree then cutting it down to bring home brought a wonderful holiday smell into our home that can’t be matched with today’s artificial trees and pine candles lit to give ambiance. There were the holiday traditional dishes-homemade fudge, gingerbread houses, different types of cookies that made this time of year memorable with its wonderful smells, that say stay home and enjoy some lovely homemade goodies. Unless of course you’re diabetic then the challenge now is to cook with sugar free ingredients but it can be done and still smells great. Happy holidays!


  1. I'm stopping by to wish you a MErry Christmas! When I was in Pa last week, we stopped into an old library I used to go to as a child. The smell brought back such memories!

  2. Dial soap reminds me of my grandmother's home. Apparently she used Dial. Also, I can still remember the smell of fresh, raw milk being separated into milk and cream in my grandparents' shed. The smell of fresh, homemade butter on popcorn, thanks to my mother, sends me into ecstasy!

  3. I've always loved the smell of the ginger flower because it reminds me of the rainforests of Hawaii.

    I do love the smell of a real pine tree, too... in a forest.

  4. Good grief! I forgot to send you my holiday greetings. Sheesh! Too much Christmas cookies that I shouldn't have eaten are causing havoc with my brain.

    Have a wonderful, peaceful, joyous, healthy Christmas with your beautiful family, Lin.

  5. Camay soap or Lux, can't remember which exactly was a smell I remember from my grandmother's. Wood smoke too, as her home was heated with a wood furnace. Wool makes me think of all the warm mittens and slippers she knit. Can't go by a pasture that smells like cows without remembering the smell of the farm she lived on!

  6. Dove soap from my materal grandmother and rose water from my paternal grandmother...smells are really evocative...