Friday, February 19, 2010

Scent of Home

We don't often talk about the importance of scents in setting a scene. Oh, some writers might mention the heroine's perfume. Or the scents from candles in the bedroom. But what about the other aspects of life?

In my childhood, the scent of the Old Spice my grandfather wore was deeply comforting. That was the signal that all was well with my life. The scent of lavender on sheets and quilts wasn't just aromatherapy. It was the smell of home. The scents of the sweetpeas and four-o'clocks outside my open window curled through the air in summer.

In winter, the steaming pot of pinto beans and sage and cornbread in the oven are a comfort like no other. The mouth waters in anticipation as incredible smells mingle in the kitchen.

When I was sick with a cold back when I was a kid, the odor of the menthol ointment smeared on my chest and under my nose was the signal that I would finally be able to sleep. Funny...I still take comfort in that same scent when I'm sick.

So much of our lives are defined by scents from the very beginning. Well before we can see, we can identify our mothers by smell. And somewhere along the line, this most important sense aids us in making decisions as we go through life.

Have you ever met someone you couldn't quite like? And you couldn't figure out why?'s something in the air--something you aren't even aware of. Yet, the subtle sense is telling you things about the other person.

Perhaps we need to add a few more smells to our stories...



  1. I've always been very aware of scents, and try to make sure they show up in my writing. Because they do play such a role in our perceptions of the world!

  2. So very true. Every time I smell homemade bread, I think of grandma and grandpa's house when I was little. The scent of Goldleaf and Hydrangea candles and room spray reminds me of my mom. My daughter left for college begging for a bottle of the Chanel perfume I've worn for years so it would remind her of me.

  3. I still quite like the smell of old spice on a man...actually any aftershave on a man...not sure what that says about me

  4. I have almost no sense of smell. I don't know why. My step-mother suggested it might have something to do with how sick I was as a kid. My half-sister, that I did not know until she became an adult, said that my father is the same way.

  5. Estee Lauder perfume takes me back to my grandmother. It was her favorite scent, and now my mother wears it.

  6. The smell of fresh baked bread reminds me of home,of my mother. Sweet, fresh cut grass reminds me of my grandfather. I remember watching him wield a large scythe out in a field. Brut aftershave reminds me of my father. Scent is such a powerful thing.

  7. That was a great blog, Anny. I felt like I was there.