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Sunday, December 13, 2009

smell and memory

Have you ever run across a long forgotten item or sense that reminded you of something from way way back yonder? For me, it’s smell. I would like to make an incense blend of Swisher Sweets cigars, Old Spice, line-dried flannel, the metal, oil, and weathered upholstery of an old pickup truck, cows, milk, sweet feed, and wet cement, with a high note of manure. And every time I burned it, my grandpa would aromatize out of the smoke and stay with me for the rest of the day. I would keep fishing gear in the utility room so that when he wafted in, we would head up Highway 276 to the creeks in that part of Greenville that points the accusatory finger at something over in Pickens County. Or perhaps we would take off up Old Highway 25, through the watershed area, and he would ask me to keep a lookout for that shed in the woods (it’s out there, you know), to keep my mind off the nausea that always crept up on me on our trips to see his cousins around Tuxedo and Flat Rock. But this time, since I’d be driving, I wouldn’t get car sick.


Robin said...

Never had a grandpa. Both of mine went to live with Jesus 6 years before I was born. Your memories sure do sound like great ones, though. And, if you don't mind, I'll close my eyes and think on them as if they were mine.

Rebel Fan said...

I'd be happy to share my Papa with you, Robo. He would have liked you.

Gary Carden said...

Do you know the famous literary story that comes from Proust (which I never read) about how the smell of something like a cookie and a cup of tea sent the author back to his childhood? Ah, well. This happens to me all the time, and I put it in my play, "Prince of Dark Corners" where Redmond "dreams smells" like coffee, wood smoke from a campfire over 20 years ago. I had one of those flashbacks recently with a piece of bubblegum.

Rebel Fan said...

The only Proust I know, Gary, is the French feller who gave us chemists the Law of Constant Proportions. But, yeah, I've heard of the smell and memory concept in phychology class. I saw the play and remember Lewis talking about the smells of the camp.