Viewing entries in
Smell: Fruity (non citrus

No title - this represents a collective memory

I find I tend to relate olfactory memories to experiences where smells act as triggers , sometimes visual experiences evoke olfactory memories and sometimes a sound can evoke an olfactory memory as the sensory experiences all seem to link back to a holistic sensory memory of all that I remember about something ...


The song ‘new york’ makes me recall my father’s cigarettes, his bourbon , Worn ( burgundy ) leather and the times spent with him at the jazz 100 club in London

The sight of climbing roses makes me think of freshly mown grass. Petrol-the lawn mower and suntan oil, as well as my mothered gardening gloves and the sweet sharp smell of the home made lemonade age maid the slightly musty smell of the wicker pic nic basket and the fresh linen smell of napkins. 

Oil smells of the garden shed and magazines and sun loungers - from the shed !
Going to the beach is the radio the picnic rug - smelling of cigar smoke or pipe tobacco - sweet tobacco as my grandad smoked in the shed!


Summer is baking , patchouli, strawberries, sweet oil- like Hawaiian tropic suntan oil my mum used- cliff Richard songs she played as well as leather and deep tones of jazz melodies and toasted almonds and copper whisky in crystal tumblers with clinking ice and smells of the sea and salt if you laid back on the blanket and closed your eyes in the sunshine - then cucumbers tomatoes and cheese from salads ...

- Nathalie Elwood

Scents Memory

“Those pancakes are burning! Can’t you smell them?” 

In fact I cannot, as my mate well knows. Ditto garlic sizzling in hot sesame oil, and spice cake just out of the oven. Likewise the Mexican marigolds in the garden, their foliage bruised by a tossing wind, and the cold, wet-cardboard smell of a rare rainy day. Too the cedarn atmosphere within a stand of redwoods—my favorite fragrance—and the aura of heat blowing in from the east: a Mississippi of air.

I savor these only in memory. My sense of smell faded about a decade ago, a sign (I found out later) of progressing Parkinson’s disease. It was a loss so gradual and unobtrusive that I didn’t notice until the sense was quite gone. Because they’re so closely linked, my sense of taste is crippled as well: I can detect only saltiness, sweetness, or the burn of capsaicin (which causes the heat you feel when eating chili peppers, and which I’m not even sure is a flavor). The smell and taste sensations appear to me as phantoms—brain-invented illusions without basis or cause—in the most incongruous situations. Lingering in bed in the morning, dozing and waking in short cycles, I’ll catch the salty splatter of bay water and the sinus-stinging smoke from cheap gas churning in the violent wake of the ski boat my family had when I was a teenager. Working the odorless decomposed granite that answers for soil in my vegetable plot, my mouth waters from the smell of popping corn or the taste of hot chocolate.

It’s hard not to be bitter over what I’ve lost: two-fifths of my interface with the world (though, being honest, I’d rather live without taste and smell than sight and hearing). I try to focus on and be grateful for the mechanism, whatever it is, that still allows me to relish the greasy aroma of fat rendered from browning bacon, or the sharp, astringent perfume of lavender soap, even if the former comes during a performance of act two of La Boheme and the latter while driving to the DMV to renew my license. Most of all I treasure the odd, disorienting moments when my senses suddenly return, and I breathe in the incense of the week-old garbage I’m carrying out to the bin. Seconds later, my burden is again odorless, blank as ice, and my memory book one glorious, fragrant chapter richer.

- Jim Brega


The Rare Woods Room

Summer in El Cajon blisters the bougainvillea and scares lizards into hiding. Birds go silent. In the forties, before air conditioning, women sat in front of electric fans, their dresses drawn up to their thighs, and maybe a secret glass of Jack Daniels in their hand. Men swore in the heat and mopped their necks with a kerchief. 


Back then, acres of raisin grape vineyards lined East Main Street. In summer, the vines twisted on their wooden crosses, stunned by the heat. Down Main Street to the west sat W.D. Hall Lumberyard. On the way to our cabin in La Cresta, my parents and I sometimes stopped there for nails or some board lengths for doing repairs. 


Out in the open lumberyard, in summer, the heat liquefied the sap in stacks of pine two by fours, two by eights, two by tens. It oozed down the sides, creating a sweet mountain smell that mixed with the dry dirt scent of the decomposed granite underfoot. 


But that was only a preview. We weren’t always invited to go into the rare woods room since we weren’t in the market for those spendy boards, but sometimes an employee would invite us there, out of the heat, for a quick look. 


The long, narrow room stretched upward almost into darkness. It felt cool. Against the walls leaned boards that must have been ten or twelve feet tall. The clean, heady smell that saturated the air was a mix of teak’s spicy, paved-road scent with a tang of sweet and peppery, walnut’s odor so much like the nut, only moist like a forest floor, and cherrywood, actually smelling like cherries crossed with bark. And there was maple, a woodish version of maple syrup. Mahogany like nothing so much as a country dirt road. Alder faintly smelling like rubber; and oak smelling like a faraway swamp. There would also have been some woods that can’t be imported today like flowery Brazilian rosewood and Hawaiian koa, which smells like a warm bakery. 


When the thermometer hit triple digits in El Cajon, we were often tempted to go by W.D. Hall less for wood and nails than for the rare woods room. You could close your eyes there and let the scents of those hardwoods take you somewhere else. Somewhere cool. Sweet. Unforgettable.

- Anitra Carol Smith
 


Horseflesh and Tropical Coconut

She leans over me, her still wet hair quite literally dripping water onto my shoulders. The light tropical scent of her shampoo wafts over me; the same shampoo she's been using for 10 years. 

The first time this smell was etched into my memory was a night 9 years ago, when I had stayed with her overnight. Just lying awake in the small bed next to the person I would in the future come to love. Her window was always thrown wide open, without a screen, and the night breeze brought with it the smell of her horde of horses. The musty warm smell of the steady horses was one others would complain to me about, but one that I secretly delighted in. Just outside, weeds threatened to invade the room, growing tall and wild, strong bitter and rustling with spider webs. Crickets and birds were so loud and close it sounded as if they may have been in the room itself. Next to me she slept soundly in the place she had always lived, smelling of coconut. 

These would become the aromas that would always, without fail bring up her image.

-Nij


Inside the Garage

As much as I love a clean house, whenever I would tire of the sound of my mother yelling at my older sister for not folding the towels correctly, or for leaving her backpack on the kitchen counter, again, I would sneak away to find a safe haven. With my father away at work, the pressure of getting stuck in the middle of two tall, feisty redheads could feel, at times, like suffocation by estrogen. My little brother liked to hide in the hallway closet with a flashlight and his Bernstein Bears book collection, but I preferred the garage, which was only accessible from the outside. 

Instead of using the automatic garage door opener, which alerted everyone in the house that Dad was home from work, I liked to use the back door hidden behind a fence in the side yard where my sister and I played catch with Dad. The door only creaked when opened slowly, and I knew to catch it before it slammed shut behind me. Before my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the smell of dirt and rubber intoxicated my little mind so heavily I had to close my eyes and hold out a hand to the door frame to stabilize myself. The quiet solitude of darkness parked on bare concrete, while being showered with floating dust, sent shivers up my arms. A hug of warm, musty air enveloped my small shoulders and tinged my nose hairs with a slight hint of gasoline. 

I breathed deeply the happy scent of rubber tires, fresh with the memory of uphill downhill neighborhood bike rides. Cold steel tools imprinted with large greasy hands, my father’s, and his apple cider vinegar hair tonic still floating above the workbenches, I would select one tool to pick up and hold, just to feel the weight of it, before setting it back exactly where I found it. 

Feeling the shock of peeled paint on my fingers and hearing the gasp of a heavy opened drawer after I tiptoed over to inspect all the golf balls we had collected together, Dad and my siblings, I stayed far away from his wall of hand saws and power tools because they grinned at me intimidatingly with their old rusty teeth. The golf balls rolled loudly in a jumbled mess of chaos as I inspected the dresser drawer he turned into a treasure chest full of strays. Some of the golf balls were pure white and others caked in dirt, cool and crumbly to the touch, they reminded me of fresh cut grass and the pungent steam that rises off clumps of wet dirt pulled up by the lawnmower. I thought about how my dad did not fully grasp the nuances of emotional dialogue, but he knew that golfing was a great way to spend quality time with someone.

Inside the garage - my father’s space to fix things - I found the fix I needed to make it through until dinnertime. The feminine overload from inside the house, with my mother’s musky floral department store perfume, and my sister’s sticky fruit and chemical hairspray, and the arguments they were getting into over my sister’s giant hoop earrings, were sometimes too much for this little Slugger. I rode my bike right over a garter snake without even flinching, for Pete’s sake, and I hit more home runs than anyone else on my softball team. But I was beginning to grow up too, middle school was right around the corner, and the masculine breath I inhaled in my father’s garage helped me stay brave and balanced in the face of my own approaching femininity. 

As I grew older, after I went bra shopping with my mom and learned how to apply makeup from the cosmetics ladies at Macy’s department store, I stopped pulling strength from my bike riding, Little League, golf ball treasure hunting days. I turned my back on that little tomboy for several decades, enjoying the attention of wearing high heels and flirty sundresses instead, until I found myself healing from a divorce and starting over in San Diego. I decided to sell my car and only use a bicycle to commute around town, a tangible, sensory experience for my newfound self. I was supporting myself financially for the first time in my entire life, and I yearned for the strength and freedom I had found in the bike-riding days of my childhood. 

One hot and humid Fourth of July weekend, San Diego was alive with the smell of barbecue charcoal, cold beer, and roasting hotdogs. Sweating salty bullets in shorts and a tank top, I walked into my local bike shop in Ocean Beach for the first time and before I could utter a word, that same rubber and dirt smell flushed up my nostrils and kissed my forehead. I was back in my father’s garage. 

“Can I help you?” the bike shop owner walked forward, wiping his greasy hands on an equally greasy rag. 

“I want to sell my car and use a bike to get to work...so I need a commuter bike with a rear rack for all my stuff, and one that can go up hills.....” I spoke rapidly, blushing because I wanted to be self-confident but was out of practice. 

“I haven’t ridden a bike since I was twelve years old,” I confessed.

He looked me up and down with a discerning eye, sizing my height and build for what type of bike I would need. I straightened my back and looked him in the eye, hoping to convey that I was strong, that I belonged here in this shop full of rubber tires and greasy tools, and would be capable of whatever bike he chose for me. 

“I have exactly what you are looking for,” he said.

Chloe Sparacino