Monday, August 1, 2011

The Smells of My Childhood

What are the smells that remind you of home?

Of your childhood?

When I started to think about writing this post, I had no idea the strange smells that would come to mind.

Burning Sugar: Sugar was processed every fall in the town I lived in for middle and high school. That smell of burning sugar has a strong association for me with school starting, fall and "home". If you had ever told me growing up that I might even miss that smell or wish to recreate it if only for a moment I would have thought you were clearly insane. However, when Liam goes to school this fall...I'll be thinking of it.

Campfire: My family camped a lot when I was younger. We had a trailer that we kept "up north" and we went almost every weekend. I have great memories of playing at the lake and on the beach. Memories of fishing and exploring, riding bikes and finding trouble. And, most importantly of the camp fires that we had. My mom was a whiz thinking of creative treats to roast around the campfire we did the classic S'mores and hotdogs but we also made pizzas, pies, and donuts. We spent many an hour creating delicious fire roasted creations and we were left with the smells of the campfire in our clothes and hair for days.

Mildew: I'm not sure that Mildew is the right word, but I can't think of any other that fits more appropriately. My grandparents had an enormous basement with concrete flooring. Every year at Christmas and in the summers all the kids would head down there for playing ping pong, checking out Grandpa's train (that never worked), riding tricycles, skateboards, making craft projects or engaging in all out mayhem. While I was down there, I don't think I ever noticed the slight "basement-y" scent, but now as an adult every once in a while I go into someone's garage or basement and the smell is just the same. It takes me away to different time and age. And, for that one moment it's truly "magical"!

Coffee: My chores in our house growing up changed and evolved as I got older, but shoveling snow, emptying the dishwasher and making the coffee for my parents were always on my list. I'm not sure that the coffee making was an official chore handed down by my parents or if it was a peaceful act on my part for the very emotional "teenage girl" role that I played in our house. Either way, the smell of coffee always reminds me of parents and of the home we lived in for most of my high school years. Even now when we go home for a visit, I find myself up making them coffee most days we are there

Bug Fogging: This takes me back to the home we lived in when I attended Elementary School. In the summer a work truck with who-knows-what in the back of it would come thru and spray obnoxious clouds of white mist up and down each street to keep the mosquitoes at bay. This might just be a Michigan thing, I'm not sure. But the overwhelmingly bitter scent of the "fog" would linger for awhile before settling down and ostensibly killing the bugs. I wonder if those guys who had that job now have extra fingers, or lung cancer--it can't have been healthy for us, but most certainly not for them.

What smells remind you of home?

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