It was a wintry afternoon and I was walking the dog. There was snow on the ground, no breeze, just the right amount of light when I smelled it.
A sweet fresh clean smell. Not too flowery, not too perfume-y but welcoming. I felt as if I was being wrapped in something wonderful.
Then it hit me – dryer sheets. Someone was running their dryer and the exhaust was sweetening the air outside. If you are not a fan of perfumes or have allergies to various scents, I can see how the scent might be offensive. But for that moment I was enjoying the lightness of the perfume, the sweetness that was not overwhelming and the memories of home it brings out.
It is similar to when I recognize an older lotion from Mary Kay. It is as if I am back in my grandmother’s bathroom and I can smell her favorite cream. I get the feeling she is nearby and that if I turn around at the right moment I can talk to her once more.
I feel happy and comforted all at once in the same way I do when I smell pipe smoke. It can be one of those rich, woodsy-sweet smelling varieties and I am in my grandparent’s living room while Grandpa is enjoying his pipe. Maybe we are playing war or slap jack. He could be explaining how two bits equals a quarter and making us better mathematicians than fate had allowed.
Smells take us to the past and new smells imbed themselves, creating future memories. When we make a new dish, I love smelling the new smell. I am trying to recognize it and place it.
Last night I did that as I was making Chicken Riggies. I found the recipe at Happy When Not Hungry’s blog. It is Chicken in a tomato-cream sauce mixed with Rigatoni. Apparently, the dish is a favorite in the Ithaca area of Upstate New York. I had to make some adjustments as I do not keep Vermouth at the house.
When I would take the lid off of the sauce pan to smell everything, I could not recognize it. Slowly, the tomato sauce furled out as did the onion. The cream did not come to me straight away. I was not sure if it smelled good and asked my husband for his opinion.
He thought it was tremendous. I had him pour the Rigatoni into the pasta bowl and then I poured in the sauce with the chicken. I began noticing the interplay of flavors as I mixed it all together with a bit of mozzarella cheese. In our excitement and hunger, we did not take a picture of the dish. There is none left to do so after the fact.
Perhaps what my kids will remember is not a specific smell but simply the smell of something cooking that will make them feel at home and comforted. The smell of life all around them. Or maybe what they will remember is my perfume as they cuddled to me at the end of the day.
Once I pass and can no longer give soothing words, perhaps this will remind them of me and wonder if they turn at the right moment they can talk to me once more.
Do you have a smell that transport you to a memory?