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Smells, Memories and Emotions
Neuroscientists tell us smells have a stronger link to our memories and emotions than any of the other senses. Scents go directly to the brain’s smell center know as the olfactory bulb.
Really, folks, we don’t need a scientific explanation as our personal experiences tell us this is true.
A few smells that bring memories for me include the smell of popping popcorn. It returns me to my childhood and Sunday evenings when a dishpan full of buttered popcorn was an “all you can eat” supper.
The smell of navy beans simmering atop the heating stove triggers a memory of a wash day supper. Of course, the smell of warm cornbread fresh from the oven and spread with homemade butter was combined with the bean soup for a hearty supper.
Bed sheets that had dried in the breezy sunshine on the clothes line trigger emotions of safety and love as we were tucked in under them at bed time. Sweet dreams followed.
The oven is a source of some of the best smells. What memories and emotions are triggered by that wonderful smell of fresh bread or cinnamon rolls when the oven door is opened and the finished product is pulled out to cool. Warm cookies bring memories of coming home after school to a kitchen filled with that smell coming from cookies cooling and ready for a snack. Yum!
The fragrance of roses bring me a memory of my great-grandmother coming up the walk to our house with a red rose and a birthday dollar for my June birthday. She never failed to make it a happy birthday. Perfume makers try, but they fail to duplicate the fragrance of a freshly cut American Beauty red rose held to the nose for a long sniff.
Coffee! Oh, yes! The smell of coffee perking trigger memories of visits to my aunt’s house where she served that brew fresh from the coffee pot with steam rising from the coffee mug to stimulate our sense of smell. That smell always brings memories of her kitchen and a visit and her kindness.
The effects of some smells help reduce stress and tension, some boost mental activity and alertness, some bring a feeling of peace and readiness for a good night’s sleep.
On the other hand, some folks recall the smells that lead to teary eyes and a runny nose…allergies and a bad memory. Sorry!
So what is it for you? Think of smells and see what memories and emotions are evoked. I hope they make you happy. Now for that cup of coffee and a cookie or two… Aah, yes. Good memories will follow.
-Contributed by Marilyn Goodwin