Thursday, October 9, 2014

WEEK 14 :

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have
lived,” wrote Helen Keller in her autobiography. “The odors of fruits waft me to my southern home, to
my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to
dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents
that awaken sweet memories of summers gone and ripening field far away.”
Though Helen Keller’s words are made more poignant by the fact that she was blind and deaf,
we all have this innate connection to smell. It seems to travel to our brains directly, without logical or
intellectual interference. Physiologically, we do apprehend smells more quickly than other sensations,
and the images aroused by smell act as beacons leading to our richest memories, our most private
selves. Because smell is so intimately tied up with breath, after all, a function of our bodies that works continually, day and night, keeping us alive, it keys us into the memories that evoke the continual   and flow of experience. The richest smells can be the most innocent: the smell of a BarbieDoll, the

smell of Play-Doh, the smell of the house right after your mother cleaned (the hot dust inside the
vacuum, the tart scent of Lemon Pledge), the shoes in your father’s closet that smell of old polish. Or
smells can be more complex: the aftershave your father wore the day he lost his job, or the scent of a
baby’s head. Smells can be pleasant or unpleasant: The perfume of a soft ocean breeze or the stench of
rotting garbage or burning rubber; the odor of Grandma’s sumptuous apple pie or the scent of a burnt
and ruined meal; the smell of flowers blooming on a warm spring day or the smell of something that
made you feel ill.
What are the smells that you remember, the ones that, even in your memory, make you stop a
moment and breathe deeply, that make your heart beat faster, or make your palms sweat? Write about a
sense of smell that for you is a powerful memory trigger. Do you remember the smell of your
grandparents’ House, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sweet smell of cotton candy at a carnival, or
the smell of a dentist’s office? 

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