Forget the Pheromones, Bring on the Chicken and Dumplings

Certain smells can make me cry. And I’m not talking trash that’s been sitting under the sink for too long. The truth is, while some people are moved by commercials, I’m far more touched by scent.
The smell of sweet peas reminds me of my son’s birth when the neighbor brought over a huge armload of flowers from his garden. Given that I was overwhelmed by hormones and lack of sleep, his simple kindness made me cry. A whiff of chicken and dumplings with plenty of sage reminds me of my grandmother and, depending on my state of mind, it sometimes moves me to tears too. I miss her still and I only use Ivory Liquid dish soap because the smell reminds me of her.

Here’s a piece of technical trivia: Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of our brain, which also happens to be the seat of emotion. It’s no wonder smells bring up feelings, and those feelings will be different for every one of us.

For me:

The smell of the ocean is the smell of home.
The smell of diesel exhaust makes me smile. It reminds me of my first trip to England.
Wood smoke makes me nostalgic. It reminds me of camping with my kids when they were young.
A whiff of hairspray brings a wave of anxiety.
The smell of pine is the anticipation of Christmas.
The smell of Earl Grey tea reminds me of my grandfather.
The smell of ouzo takes me to a beach in Greece, a wrinkled old man and the freedom of no responsibility.
The scent of chlorine takes me to childhood swimming lessons and that makes me panicky.
The smell of rain makes me want to read.
The waxy smell of crayons brings an ‘anything’s possible’ feeling.
Corn dogs bring on a wave of nausea (don’t ask).
The scent of Love’s Baby Soft perfume takes me back to high school.
And the smell of anything baking – sweet, savory, or savory-sweet – makes me calm.

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