Smell …..the other sense.

This carries on from Blackpudlian's  memory rousing blog about music and sound. Smell is just as evocative  but perhaps we do not acknowledge it as often as we have to smell again for the memory to register. So what smells strike a cord for you?  For me they start with school based smells...... the smell of the worn wood block floor of the school gym' cabbage cooking in the school kitchen wafting through the school. The cloakroom full of wet coats, school ink and the almond smell of the white glue we used.  Then I move to teenage years, there was a particular suntan lotion, it was dark brown and not much more than oil to fry us I suspect, the smell shouted summer. Pond's vanishing cream LOL!.  The smell of the inside of a public bus, do they still smell the same? The Ferry across the Mersey, a compound of hot oil, old wood and sea water.  Sobrani tobacco,  then all the smells associated with travel, each place with it's smell scape. could plot various decades of my life with the perfumes I've loved from early  lentheric's Tweed, Arpege, Guerlain's....Ode, Mitsouko,Shalima, Clinique Aromatics to floris Zinnia. Then there are the great food smells...roasting beef, coffee, baking bread and the house full of Christmas cake smells. Flowers......the different type of rose perfume, spicey to honey, honey suckle  lilac. lily of the valley, heliotrope., spring flowers......... Fresh linen, new car....what smells swing you through the years of memory?

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Published in Childhood & Memories


  1. roseinbloom

    Thanks for a great blog, rockflower. Tobacco, I took a long time to realize that I expected all men to smell like tobacco and I like it. I have never smoked but tobacco was left in my dad’s shirt pockets, I like my Dad and I sat on his lap instil I was about nine and smelled tobacco so I realized that after many years that I expected men to smell like tobacco.
    I also realized after many years that I loved the smell of coffee and bacon first thing in the morning; that was how I started almost every day of my life. and as I got older; I woke up and rushed in the kitchen to help with breakfast. I loved to cook for many years, but don’t eat bacon and eggs very often and rarely get to wake to that smell that meant all was well in my world.
    Pine smell, I love the smell of pine. It meant Christmas and it meant clean. I have a pine scented cleaner in my kitchen today and use it just for fun mostly.
    Aromatics are a business, but each of us need to surround ourselves with the smells that delight us. Baking is a good one and fresh yeast bread delights my soul. Yeast, coffee and bacon and pineapple may need to outpace many other less desirable smells. We cannot decorate every day, but we can bring in the scents we love or create the scents we like. If we don’t bake, we can boil some spices or make a tea.
    As we grow older, we can hold on to the things we love that make us happy.

  2. Rockflower Post author

    I have been told scent is the last sense to go Rose…….but how does anyone know that LOL! Like you I have the tobacco smell tied up with a person, in my case my grandfather. He smoked a pipe constantly, his excuse was that it kept the greenfly at bay in the green house. That brings up another smell, taking a tomato off the vine, pulling off the “spider” and smelling tomato. They don’t smell like that anymore or is it my nose? I think that smell of bacon has undone many would be vegetarians , it is a great smell, as is roasting coffee. A shop in Liverpool used to roast their coffee and the clever shop owner had the extractor fan waft the smell into the street, it drew people in like a magnet. I so agree with you about the smell of real pine forest, first for me in the Canadian Rockies in a hot Alberta summer, it is wonderful and never quite captured in a bottle.Thanks for reminding me.

    1. roseinbloom

      Rockflower, we remind each other. As for the senses that go, They all go with aging or due to disease, Tomatoes don’t smell. they are too genetically altered and their skin is to thick, and they are not allowed to ripen on the vine. I grew up in the country and everything was off plants and trees. Still we have a lot around us and we need to enjoy that we do have.

  3. CSweet51

    Very few smells bring me memories, there are a few. The pine tree. I remember the big Christmas tree in our living room with all the ornaments and the tinsel (only one strand per branch per my mother’s orders) lol. Christmas time was always filled with family and food and ofcourse lots of gifts. The smell of a wood fire burning outside always reminds me of northern Wisconsin in the winter time.
    And last but not least the smell of hamburgers on the grill or chicken or better yet steaks. ahhh summertime with all the family or neighbors….hmmm I am finding a connection with smells and food…hahaha.

  4. vonMichael

    It is funny Rock and I have no explanation for it. In an other bolg was asked if certain music brings back momories? For me
    no it doesn’t but smells do. Mostly smell which I get perfumes with in shops, in the street, in parks and garden, and many more bring back memories to me. As I’ve grown up in the country side I love strolling in broad-leaved forest in the early
    autumn. And these smells lead me back in thoughts to my childhood. Here I find soft but also intensive smells a city dweller
    will never ( seldom ) catch. Michael

  5. vonMichael

    Sorry Rock I forgot this intensive smell to mention: lavender. My Mum was wearing lavender-wateras it was a standard
    perfume for women after WW2. Later in the years French perfume came up to fashion but today I still find English-aftershave
    in first class perfumeries were I bu it and wear it speciall in summer. It is a really good refreshment for my skin. Michael

  6. Rockflower Post author

    Thanks for your comments Csweet, I think Christmas has so many smell memories for us because we must have had heightened reception during the excitement of that time as children.Sad that not so many children will have that memory of the real Christmas tree now so many are of them are plastic! I t was lovely and filled the house with that wonderful smell. It’s true nothing smells so good as roasting or BQ meats and I suppose that could go back to prehistoric man LOL!

  7. Rockflower Post author

    Von Michael,thanks for sharing your smell memories. You could be right, not so many happy smells connected to cities, we need someone to point them out to us I guess. So many city smells seem somewhat unpleasant like the smell of diesel engines. Wet city streets in early morning can have a special smell I suppose. City markets? Love the forest smell scape, fresh with new growth in spring and the ripe and decaying smells of autumn . I’m surprised you did not include the Christmas tree because after all, the rest of us have to thank Germany and Queen Victoria’s Albert for the tradition of the tree. Lavender always seems to be associated with mothers and grannies LOL, also with clean laundry in my home as a child. I do think as we grow older we seem to like more simple perfumes, I find myself choosing more single flower perfumes now but they must come from the best of perfume houses, nothing as bad as cheap perfume. Don’t know what it is like in Germany but they ban perfumes in many places here. I still wear it discretely because for me it is a “pick me up” like a gin and tonic or glass of champagne, I can’t have alcohol because of medication but a squirt of perfume I can have LOL, Men’s after shave again they have to be good ones subtle , with woody or leather notes and absolutely not over powering. No musk for me, can’t stand it. Interesting that you find more memories with smells than music, it is on an equal par for me.

  8. rose1943

    I live on beautiful smells. It’s very important to my happy place. Tomorrow for the 4th of July holiday, I’ll start barbecued ribs in the oven, later Jim will finish them on the grill outside. The smell of the ribs will flow throughout the house. I’ll also cook some Bratwust in beer on the stovetop, later to be grilled but will be another great fragrance in the house. When doing my weekly menu list before making my grocery list I summon up my tastebuds as well as my sense of smell to figure out a week’s menus. It works for me.
    In memory I so recall walking through my Grama’s door for Sunday dinner. Most people would hate the smell of lard but I loved it. It told me that she had made her wonderful pies, lard in the crust and so very delicious. Now and then my mom made her homemade bread and the smell of the yeast caused me great happiness. Not a great smell when she made pigtails with kidneys and barley for dinner, but I knew that awful smell would bring us a dinner we so enjoyed. She was of Polish descent of course. My husband so enjoys the smell of bacon or grilled onions when he enters the hallway door downstairs and even tho his sense of smell is weak, he can smell them and is happy.
    As a child the smell of leaves burning on the curbs was wonderful. Christmas trees, loved it. Living in the city of Chicago all my life I admit the beautiful smells have vanished replaced by many offensive smells but I do whatever I can to create tge better fragrances in my life. I will buy lilies from tge grocery store and bring in my hyacinths from my yard when they’re blooming. Love lilacs but the new buildibings next door kept them from blooming. Had planted tomatoes along with many other veggies in the past, the aromas were great. I can summon up smells I love just by thinking about them. I’m sure others can do that too. I always have my balsom cones handy to bring back the memory of walking into the Woolworth’s as a child during Christmastime….and it all comes back. Thank you, Rockfloer, for this wonderful blog. It surely hit home for me.

  9. roseinbloom

    Rose 43, for the 4th when I was a child we had our first peas and new potatoes along with whatever else was in season. We also had watermelon and ice cream. No one grilled in my area. Maybe grilling has gotten more popular and in the South here it is so hot that people don’t want to heat the house. I grew up in the mountains and it was not hot often.

  10. rose1943

    In the late Autumn and Winter, I put a combination of orange peel, cloves and cinnamon sticks in the kettle and simmer in water. It creates a wonderful fragrance in the air and is a great humidifier as well.

  11. Rockflower Post author

    Thanks for your comments Rose, Christmas smells connected to good times from our earliest days are with us all. You know how they send messages off to outer space , with great prose, music and pictures? I’ve never heard about them including smells for any receiving aliens LOL. I f they did they would have to include, the smell of bacon, coffee and fresh bread baking. Onions too, I knew a women who had a husband who hated onions and she was not allowed to ever cook them. How can you cook without an onion now and again LOL? He was a sad individual I can tell you. Hyacinths, how did I miss them out of my list? One of the most beautiful flower perfumes, honeysuckle too. My lilacs have just come out, everything is this late this year. I have four different colours of lilac and each one has a slightly different scent. The common mauve has the strongest scent and the white is more complex. I checked yesterday and I shall be able to pick lily of the valley in a day or two. This is special for me as I carried a posy of Lilly of the valley and pink tea rose buds on my wedding day. In the 60s. they developed all those exotic flower colours in roses, often at the cost of the perfume but a rose without a scent is no rose in my opinion. In fact it is those old shrub roses that flower once a year that have the best scents. They bred bigger and more colourful freesias but they came without that wonderful perfume. Now they are trying to breed the smell back in to the plant and finding it very hard to do. Same thing happened to Parma violets, they wanted bigger flowers…..well sometimes you cannot have everything you want LOL! Heliotrope, not much of a flower but wonderful intoxicating smell. No one me included mentioned wood smoke as a great smell and it is. A log or two on the fire a primeval sign of comfort and warmth.

  12. vonMichael

    Hello Rock thank you for your comment. The smell I ment comes from the Eau de Cologne which is still been sold in the UK
    as well as here in Germany. The one I still have in my car is an Eau de Cologne roller which I would say the best refreshment
    I sit in the heat in my car during the summer. Michael

  13. ohcarol62

    Imperial Leather – my childhood
    Christian Dior Dolce Vita – Zutphen in the Netherlands
    Lush – Southpark Mall – East Moline Illinois
    Alcohol wipes my babies

  14. Rockflower Post author

    Imperial leather….I’ve not smelled that for years…….. Guerlain used to have have a perfume….Russian Leather….lovely but eye watering expensive so never got the chance to get used to it LOL.