Memories, Scents and the Seasons

Even in our temperate climate of San Diego, we still feel the change of seasons. Fall is a time of slowing down and settling in. Even for us busy humans, our psyches and biological selves cannot escape the effects of our planet’s changes. I think it benefits us to accept this and make the shift to sit back and relax; change our schedule a bit to allow for some introspection. That can be quite a challenge, I know, but I think it adds to our wellness.

I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, quite a few years ago, and fall was a vivid and distinct time of year. Mainly because its elevation is at 7000 feet but another distinction is with the roasting of green chilies in large cages over fires throughout the town. With a huge demand for roasted green chilies, the air fills with a sharp yet smoky aroma wherever you go.  Even though I’ve lived in San Diego for over 24 years, every fall I find myself reflecting briefly of those falls in Santa Fe.  The memories that can be recalled by the change of seasons, without the smells, is amazing to me, but even more amazing are the memories that can be recalled with specific aromas and fragrances as I am sure you all have experienced.

You can use this liberating exercise for your well being. When you are at an uplifting event or in a meaningful time period, whatever joy or happiness it holds for you, deliberately connect with a fragrance or aroma from that experience. Take it in and use your sense of smell for the powerful benefit it holds. A bouquet of flowers, a particular meal, salt air, there are lots of pleasant smells when you think of it. It is so overlooked.  It would seem that at any moment following that event, breathing in that scent again, would rekindle the sense of that time. Re-connecting to good memories in a tactile way; lifting our spirits. How nice is that?

Here is an interesting story to share about aromas and memory. In my youth, I would spend summers at my grandmother’s home on Long Island. The house was built in the 1700’s. The upstairs room I stayed in had varnished pine floors. They gave off a musty vanilla scent. I loved my summers there. I had the occasion to go visit that home recently after 35 years. I went upstairs into that bedroom. I took a deep breath in through my nose. Oh! I literally could feel the neural pathways propelling that scent back through all my memories, at lightning speed, to the place that recognized it. It was a powerful, riveting moment.  The innocence of my youth was re-experienced and I felt free.

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