Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Scent Filled Memories

"... and this is what really threw him, the smell.  Poignantly familiar.
Wax polish, apples, a suggestion of fresh coffee.
Pot-pourri, perhaps, and summer flowers.  The smell of nostalgia, of youth.
The smell of the homes that his mother had created for her children."
Excerpt from September by Rosamunde Pilcher

My three month doctor's check up was last week and I arrived early as changes had to be imputed regarding my insurance.  The young clerk was typing in the information from both insurance cards when I noticed there were tears running down her face.  She apologized and told me that I smelled like her grandmother.

Now, one could be offended at such a statement but I knew exactly what she meant.  I told her it was the Wind Song cologne and that my mother had liked the same fragrance. She had received it as a gift at one time and wore it only when going someplace special.  The receptionist shook her head and said she was going to call her grandmother as soon as she arrived home from work... with tears still in her eyes.

I have worn a few different perfumes through the years, coming from perhaps one of the last generations of women who chose a signature fragrance.  As a teenager I loved Heaven Scent and Musk Oil before deciding upon Channel #19 for a few years.  I tried a few other scents off and on but it was Tresor that I settled upon for the next few decades until I developed a sensitivity to strong fragrance.

However, when I saw the gift box of Wind Song on clearance at Meijers after the Holidays, I knew I had to buy it to remember my mother.  I was pleasantly surprised to find it so light that it had no adverse affect at all.  So these days I like to spray a little on when I'm getting "dressed up"... which I still do for doctor's appointments.

I have long been interested in how aromas can take us back to a time and a place as if time had not passed at all.  The combined smell of bacon and coffee in the morning always remind me of my mother's kitchen, no less than the aromas of Thanksgiving can take me back to many family get-togethers.

Often when I make cinnamon rolls, I remember the friends as well as family members who were happy when I would serve them.  Sometimes still a little warm from the oven so the aroma of cinnamon was quite strong throughout the house.

The spicy aromas of ginger and nutmeg, the citrus scents of oranges and tangerines, the waft of pine that one smells when entering the home where a freshly cut Christmas tree resides... all come together to remind me it is the much beloved Christmas season.

Of course, memories are attached to scents other than those related to food.  To this day, if I smell the original Coppertone suntan lotion... I am sixteen years old, the radio is turned to WLS Chicago (back then it was a top 40 station, not talk radio), and it is a summer full of warm sunlight, long days, and friends.

Another much beloved scent is that of woodsmoke in Autumn, after the leaves have turned and it is that magical two or three weeks when the light is golden and one can almost believe there are fairies in the forest.. or Hobbits.

If the aroma happened to include that of Sweet Annie mixed with the lingering scent of woodsmoke, then I am reminded of our favorite Autumnal historical reenactment from the years the French settled in the land, with voyageurs using the river as a super highway.  I especially loved to attend when the kids were at home.  I almost always bought a small wreath of Sweet Annie just before leaving for the shuttle bus to the nearest town where we were parked.

There is a reason Realtors tell us to have a ham in the oven baking when showing your home to potential buyers... or to bake cookies before buyers are expected.  For there is something special about opening the door to a house to the aroma of dinner on the stove or the anticipation of homemade baked goods as their smells fill the air.  These are the scents of... home.

I still smile when I think of the receptionist at the doctor's office and I have a feeling she did call her beloved grandmother when she arrived home that day.  I've wondered if she told her the scent of a lady wearing Wind Song cologne sparked the phone call.  Her reaction certainly sparked these ponderings. 

Image:  Warming up in Badger's Kitchen by Chris Dunn


Anonymous said...

I used to wear Heaven Sent, now wear Wind Song. However have lost my sense of smell so I don't actually know how it husband says it is okay so I go with that. I surely do miss homey kitchen smells. Be thankful even for sense of smell. How wonderful to have it. Blessings, Sharon

Carla said...

Lovely, lovely post. Coppertone has that effect on me, also. I saved an old bottle and sometimes take a whiff. I bought a can of Adorn hairspray just for that (I haven't used hairspray since 1968). When my grandsons were small, I tried to always have shea butter on my hands. They were having a very rough time of it, and I wanted them to associate that fragrance with pleasant things, no matter where they smelled it. Good job, Brenda.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, Wind Song cologne! That was my mother’s favorite cologne also! I had forgotten all about it until you mentioned that name. Now, I need to find some for myself! Thank you for the memory!

Anonymous said...

Oh my, Wind Song cologne! That was my mother’s favorite cologne also! I had forgotten all about it until you mentioned that name. Now, I need to find some for myself! Thank you for the memory!

Linda said...

I loved reading this and totally agree with you. A certain scent can take you back in time in just one whiff!

tam said...

This post just makes me smile, thank you.

Vee said...

About fifty years ago, I was working as a cashier in a grocery store. A very nicely coiffed lady came through my line smelling so wonderful that I asked her if the scent was the soap that she was purchasing. Thank goodness, she didn't hit me. Instead she smiled and said that she thought the aroma I was enjoying was her Wind Song perfume. After work, I went directly to purchase a bottle. Remember the old commercials? "Wind Song stays on my, Wind Song stays on my mind" Guess that it has stayed on some minds through all these years. I have an old bottle in the basement, but I have moved on to other scents now. Perhaps a fresh bottle would have me return to using it. I love many different aromas...leaves burning is starting to be one that I am experiencing these days as people begin to burn leaves in their outdoor fire pits. That way, they can avoid getting a permit. I also like that rather musty smell of old books in old libraries. So many, too many to tell.

Deanna Rabe said...

Scent and memories are so strong! My mom used to wear Wind Song sometimes, and I wear Beautiful by Estée Lauder, as it is the one perfume that my husband loves. Good thing I like it too! My kids and grand will associate that scent with me one day.

BECKY said...

Brenda, I am SO happy I logged into Blogger this evening and read your post first. Various scents also carry me back to my younger days and bring beautiful memories..some maybe sad, but most are happy ones. I mentioned some in my memoir, too! [Coppertone, Sea & Ski, and Ban de Soleil, Jergens Lotion, sugar cookies, homemade bread, pot roasts, etc] Oh and some stinky perfume MY mother wore! LOL. I don't remember Wind Song, but I'm going to look for some. I used to wear Heaven Scent, Charlie, & Liz Clairborne. I haven't worn anything in years because it never smells the same on me as the bottle. So, thank you again for this beautiful post!

BECKY said...

P.S. I forgot to say I LOVE Rosamunde Pilcher books!!

Carol said...

For me, the food scents are the best. I also had a signature perfume for many years, Stetson for Women. Oh how I loved it! Then I discovered Red Door by Elizabeth Arden, but now I choose to wear different scents based on how I am feeling or where I am going. I personally am enjoying the Soak that I purchased from Pink Zebra as my favorite. Either Relax Lavendar Vanilla or a fruity scent.

Mrs. White said...

This is so sweet! I use the same perfume my mother wore. It reminds me of her.

Keri said...

I know this wasn't the point of your post, but it made me pleased to read that you consider doctor's appointments a reason to dress up. I do the same, and have taught my children to do so also. For me, it indicates that there is importance to the appointment and that I have a respect for the person I'm seeing (or at least for his/her expertise). It's good to know that I'm not the only one.

Also, I will say a prayer for your hospitalized loved one. I'm sorry for this distress in your family.

Ian's Girl said...

The part of the brain that processes scent is very close to the part that processes memory, which is why scent is so very strongly associated with memories. Lovely article, especially for a perfume lover like me!