The powerful Sense of Smell

Ophelia - John William Waterhouse -
Ophelia - John William Waterhouse
How powerful the sense of smell is, it can evoke vivid, forgotten memories in seconds, childhood memories, a certain day, people and places.

This must begin at birth, the ability a newborn baby has to identify it's mother just by her smell.

I never understand, when people say they have a strong sense of smell, how do they know that? How do they know what things smell like to others, just as we don't really know what the colour red looks like to others, I think some of us are just more aware of smells, maybe just generally more aware of our surroundings.

A thread of cigar smoke, a whiff of Kouros aftershave by Yves Saint Laurent and it is as if my father is in the room with me, I can sense, him I can feel his presence, all this with a smell that may have lasted just a few seconds.

 Sometimes the intensity of the memory can cause me to gasp.

Kouros Body Men By Yves Saint Laurent 

Kouros aftershave. YSL. Photo from Google uk
Kouros aftershave. YSL.
 Photo from Google uk

Cigar Smoke Image
Cigar Smoke

The smell of an old-fashioned lipstick brings a picture of my mother into my head, the expression she made putting lipstick on in the mirror, the way it was aworn down flat on the top, not the usual slant you see on used lipsticks, the coral red colour.

Vintage lipsticks Image
Vintage lipsticks

It works both ways because just by looking at the image of these old lipsticks I can smell them, actually smell them.

 With some things I can actually taste smells, I don't like olives and the best way I know to describe how they taste to me is that they taste like acetone smells!

Wood smoke from Autumn bonfires brings not only my memories of my Grandmother but a memory of a certain day, walking up the lane to her house with my Mother, smoke billowing all over, like walking through a fog and my Mother saying: "Oh my goodness, she's burning the leaves again" and being quite angry, I don't know why she was angry.

Sir John Everett Millais Autumn Leaves
Sir John Everett Millais Autumn Leaves

The smell of roses, and here I have to say no rose today smells as good as it did in my childhood, is that a trick our brains are playing on us, everything was better, bigger, smaller when we were children?

With the faintest whiff of a rose, I am back in a English garden collecting rose petals, stuffing as many as possible into a jam jar, adding water, leaving them to steep, trying to be patient until I have scent!

Rose Petal Scent Image from Instagram com
Rose Petal Scent
Image from Instagram com

The smell of fish and chips take me back to the sea side at Scarborough, Filey or any other English East coast town.

 Walking along the sea front,  souvenir shops, amusement arcades, buckets and spades, beach balls hung outside shops in string bags.

 The tray the fish and chips were in, not polystyrene as they are today but a thick, cream-coloured cardboard, like the old egg boxes used to be made of, and the tiny wooden fork; I can taste the tiny wooden fork!

Fish & chips in newspaper Image Food So Good Mall
Fish & chips in newspaper
Image Food So Good Mall

I love so many smells, most of them from nature, wood smoke, as I mentioned above, the smell of freshly cut grass, I don't think that there can be anyone who doesn't love this smell.

Freshly cut grass. Image taken by tina-manthorpe at Easton Gardens from an article from Pyth + Vigor
Freshly cut grass.
Image taken by tina-manthorpe at Easton Gardens from an article from Pyth + Vigor

The smell of damp earth when gardening, I want to scoop it up and put my face in it!

Earth Image from Ann Street Studio
Image from Ann Street Studio

The way the world smells after a long dry hot spell when it rains, it smells different, clean fresh, this smell actually has a name, petrichor,  wet wooden fences is another smell that instantly takes me back to my childhood.

The smell of rain- drenched earth thisivyhouse.tumblr. com
The smell of rain- drenched earth
thisivyhouse.tumblr. com

The best smell  though is the sea, a sea breeze, the beach, that crisp,salty,sometimes slightly fishy smell.

So invigorating, so fresh, so pure.

Funnily enough the worst sort of scents for me, be it to wear, to clean with or whatever, are the ones named after the sea, Breeze, waves etc.

The smells of nature can not be reproduced and bottled up, no synthetic chemicals, no expensive diptyque candles can ever capture the true essence of nature.

The Sea at Saintes Maries de la Mer by Van Gogh
The Sea at Saintes Maries de la Mer by Van Gogh

Other random favourite smells of mine are,baking bread, clean,freshly ironed bed sheets, leather, old books and so many more.

A few years ago, more than a few actually, a book was published, "Perfume.The Story Of A Murderer" by Patrick Suskind, it is a wonderful book, about the sense of smell and identity.

I loved it so much that I bought lots of copies to give to friends, I even bought Greek copies for Greek friends.

I must say the title in Greek was much more inviting than the English one.
It is: "Aroma"

I was so excited when I discovered that there also existed a film based on the book, a disappointment though but then films based on books usually are.

While you are reading, images of the characters, the places, are being formed in your imagination, then you see the film and think, oh they have her blonde in the film, I imagined her with black hair.

Much better to read.

Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
A story of a Murderer

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer By: Patrick Süskind

  A weakness of mine or rather a passion is scent; I wear it all the time, putting on scent is as natural to me as  brushing my teeth every morning but it has to be a scent that nobody I know wears, if a friend wears it, I never buy it Daughter is an exception!

Here are a few I wear, only a few, not giving my secrets away!

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche Image from Luckyscent
Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche
 Image from Luckyscent

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche, a  heavy, oriental, has quite an incense smell about it.
No one likes it...I don't care...I love it!

Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien Eau de Parfum Image from Neiman Marcus
Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien Eau de Parfum
 Image from Neiman Marcus

Annick Goutal eau d' Hadrien, light and lemony.Lovely for Summer.

Serge Lutens Arabie  Image from Blog- mademoisellec. net
Serge Lutens Arabie
Image from Blog- mademoisellec. net

Serge Lutens Arabie, slightly medicinal, a favourite.

Acqua Di Parma Colonia   Image from mightget .com
Acqua Di Parma Colonia
 Image from mightget .com

Acqua di parma, fresh lemony scent..strong, both I and MGG love this!

 I prefer  niche scents, little known scents, unfortunately these are usually expensive,
when I am without my favourites and cash is tight, I wear a Greek lemon cologne, Myrto, 
Eight euros in the supermarket and it is just fine, so cooling for these hot Greek Summer days.

Cheap enough to splash onto your bed sheets when ironing them, they do a super lavender one too!

Myrto Greek lemon cologne
Greek lemon cologne
I left the best smell of all until last, the best smell of all is ...home, my daughter's shampoo, lingering cooking aromas, freshly ironed clothes, an underlying doggy smell, my son's over-powering deodorant (Axe), MGGs (My Greek God) suede jacket and freshly brewed coffee.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee Image Denise Jackson Tumblr
The smell of freshly brewed coffee
Image Denise Jackson Tumblr

Smells by Christopher Morley

WHY is it that the poet tells
  So little of the sense of smell?
  These are the odors I love well:
The smell of coffee freshly ground;
  Or rich plum pudding,Holly crowned; 
 Or onions fried and deeply browned.
 The fragrance of a fumy pipe;
 The smell of apples, newly ripe;
 And printer's ink on leaden type.
Woods by moonlight in September
  Breathe most sweet,
and I remember Many a smoky camp-fire ember.
 Camphor, turpentine, and tea,
  The balsam of a Christmas tree,
 These are whiffs of gramarye. . .
  A ship smells best of all to me!

Life smells good!

Life smells good! Image
Life smells good!


Anonymous said…
Beautiful post Susan with plenty of aroma!!!!
Also, the smell of indian curry shops in Bradford of 70s!!!!!!! xaxaxaxa
Anonymous said…
Excellent, I agree with you , smell is a powerful thing which takes you back to moments you may have forgotten. Well done Sue ★
Thank you.Music is also a powerful thing, certain records can take you back in the blink of an eye.
I think I can do without the curry smells but well done on remembering that!