Scent: The First Memory

It’s amazing how a scent can bring to our consciousness memories we thought long lost. Many times, a certain smell becomes associated with a place or person. Even after we stop going to that place or the person leaves our lives, a whiff of that particular smell will bring them back and all the emotions that came with them. What scents evoke memories for you?

“The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odor around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one center after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection.”
– Lewis Thomas

“The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.”
– Thalassa Cruso

“When I write about a 15-year-old, I jump, I return to the days when I was that age. It’s like a time machine. I can remember everything. I can feel the wind. I can smell the air. Very actually. Very vividly.”
– Haruki Murakami

“For the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it is a pity that we use it so little.”
– Rachel Carson

“Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth”
– Diane Ackerman

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