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Scent Memory: Of Children, Of Their Parents

hanging lavenderShe looked up from the table and asked, “What perfume are you wearing?” We were sitting in a restaurant deep in the French Quarter of New Orleans, doors swung wide, a humid breeze dragging its feet through the summer air. All I could think was, “I’m wearing sweat, good grief, what is she smelling?”

“Nantucket Briar by Crabtree & Evelyn. Why?”

She smiled and said, “Oh… I don’t know… it reminds me of my mom.”

I wanted to ask, “So, did you like your mom?” in hopes that I wasn’t reminding her of someone she wanted to throttle. The warmth in her eye suggested she liked her mother very much, though, and satisfied me in a way she couldn’t have imagined.

I chose Nantucket Briar as my signature scent precisely because I want my children to have a scent memory of me smelling just like this. Nantucket Briar is a crisp, green scent, laced with sharp lavender and what for all of the world smells like brittle bark or, I imagine, briars. It smells like browns and greens and light purple and white.

Though, according to Crabtree & Evelyn, Nantucket Briar smells like wild briar rose, bergamot, ambergris, spice and vanilla. Apparently there isn’t any lavender in it at all. I suppose “clean dirt, bark, and spikey flowering herbs” wouldn’t sell as well.

The scent memory I want my children to have of their mother is that of a woman with wild, windblown hair, softened by salt, as though she just walked from the beach through a bit of forest full of fairies and lavender. Clean but wiley. Unpredictable, yet theirs.

Lavender herb and essential oilI put deliberate thought into my children’s scent memory of me. Granted, my ongoing battle with showers probably isn’t helping my cause, though Nantucket Briar does come in a body mist. You know I would know that.

Scent memory is real. Looking into the softened eyes of the woman across from me, I could see her go someplace else, someplace long ago, someplace warm and inviting with adoring embraces and eyes squinting from happiness. I learned later that she very much loved her mother, for many of the same reasons I hope my children love and remember me.

Of course I am crafting my children’s memories in subtle ways. I am a writer. I craft experiences.

Do you have a signature scent? Do you have several?

What do you think will lace your children’s scent memory of you and their childhood? What is your childhood scent memory?

 


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