It never ceases to amaze me how closely one's sense of smell is interwoven with one's memory. I have no doubt many of you are also very aware of this connection from your own experience.
Sometimes, it's an expected trip into the past. For example, the smells of holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are almost a guaranteed memory factory. From the cinnamon laced potpourris and spiced beverages to the many wonderful seasonal recipes baking in the oven that have, in many cases, been handed down for generations, for approximately two months the air in the house seems to hang heavy with a rich multitude of memories of loved ones and holidays long ago. It's easy for me to forget that these same rich aromas are simultaneously cementing into place a foundation of memories for the younger generation which they will hopefully one day fondly reminisce.
With that being said, we are sometimes caught completely off guard by a scent and forcibly transported to another time and place before we even realize what has happened. I know many times while walking through my neighborhood, I have suddenly found myself on the path to my grandparents' front door as I caught the faint hint of privet hedge on a breeze. Once, I stepped onto an elevator that unexpectedly took me to the kindergarten hallway of Fairfax Elementary via the wafting perfume of an unknown lady with apparently similar taste to that of Ms. Carter.
Today, as I stepped out the door to check the mail, I was met by a cool breeze laced with the scent of autumn (a smell which I find impossible to accurately describe or duplicate no matter what the label on the candle says). As a child, autumn was the smell of anticipation: of a newly begun school year; of the fast approaching children's high holy day of Halloween; and of Friday night high school football games, the be-there-or-be-square social event of the week. So today, for a split second on a Monday afternoon in October 2012, it was a Friday afternoon in 1990; I was riding a school bus with the window down, my black and gold spirit ribbon occasionally flapping at my face, and brimming over with excitement about going back for that night's home game.
What was in your mail today...?