This is Sara’s prompt for the week and I’m having a really hard time narrowing it down to just one thing! I love the fact that the sense of smell is so closely entwined with our memory receptors. Of course there are plenty of smells that just bring instant delight for no good reason other than ‘that smells like it would taste delicious’ or ‘I love that perfume/cologne’, but then there are more meaningful examples. I’m sure every mum out there will agree that pressing your nose to your new born baby’s head brought more than just the thought that it was a pleasant smell – the warmth and the weight of the baby and the feeling of soft skin against you – everything right there was wrapped up in that unique scent.
This morning I was rifling through an old box of random goodies that I had forgotten about and I came across a tub of Body Shop Coconut Shimmer Body Butter I bought a couple of years ago. I have swathed myself in it and right now I am transported to beach holidays of the past – the feeling of the hot sun on your skin, the happiness that brought.
Funnily enough one of the loveliest smells, as I’m sure many people would agree, is the aroma of freshly baking bread. Weirdly that smell made me feel deeply sick when I was in my first trimester with JJ so I guess I’ll always have mixed feelings about that one!
The smell of a newly printed and purchased book – particularly one with glossy pages – is also fabulous for a bookworm like me; it can be powerfully evocative of that most delicious of pursuits – cosying up with a really gripping story or sitting down with a coffee to flick through the pages of a particularly gossipy magazine.
Back in my 20s when I was young, free, single and slightly affluent (with a job and no real outgoings!) I used to treat myself to the odd spa session – a facial or a neck and shoulder massage. There was a lovely little walk-in salon in Kingston upon Thames where you would be led through a corridor lit by tea lights whilst that kind of feel-good ‘relaxation’ music played gently in the background. But most evocative of all was that wonderful smell – spicy and yet fresh – perfumed and yet clean – a scent of all that is luxurious and wholesome, crisp, pure, cool, invigorating…
And then there are the smells of the seasons:
The unmistakeable aroma of cinnamon and spice, pine needles and mulled spirits conjuring the magic and excitement of the Christmas holiday; Damp logs on a newly built fire as they catch and ignite…
Less easily definable than the other seasons but I’m thinking of those first fresh earthy smells, the first summer fruits in your kitchen and the dewy scent of the grass in those early morning mists.
Other than the coconut oils and the mown grass and the flaming barbeques, there are a host of smells I love about the summer – not least of which is the smell of the earth after a summer storm – I think that is possibly the most powerful of the lot – it conjures a feeling of being somewhere warm and lush – a tropical interlude if you will, the adventure of running for shelter in your shorts and sandals, laughing and happy for once to be caught out in a shower. And with that smell, the sense of the vegetation around you almost popping out and shooting upwards in a sea of colour before your very eyes…
That first bonfire, damp piles of kicking leaves and gunpowder as Guy Fawkes fireworks explode into a multi-coloured one-night festival of light.
But you really want to know what my favourite smell is? It is all of the above, and anything that makes me feel happy.