Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Struck by the smell of freesia

Recognition by smell must be one of the strongest emotions. I recall opening a jar of baby food for my first born and knowing I had smelled the same when I was a child. Cinnamon takes us back to Christmas and vinegar to dyeing Easter eggs. Suntan lotion is a swimming pool and fresh-cut grass Saturday morning.

We have one of the lounge chairs out of my father's den (the other is in his room at the nursing home) and it smells like him although it's been over three years since he was anywhere near it. He worked with lawnmowers and engines and oil and grease and those smells are embedded in the leather. I don't always smell them, just often enough to remember what Daddy smelled like.

But yesterday I opened a shower gel based on freesia. I don't even know why I bought that particular "flavor", but I know I wished I had bought two of the tea tree and ginger that had just made it to the wastebasket. But I had the freesia; I would use it.

All of a sudden, my mother was there. Not literally, of course, since she's been dead over 9 years, but it was the smell of her shampoo. All my life, Mother never did her own hair; her once a week at the beauty shop was sacred. She'd return with gossip and dirty jokes--and the smell of freesia in her hair. I'll guarantee she didn't know the scent's name, just that it was her shampoo.

I may buy another bottle.


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