The most underrated sense
Our three-year-old and I went on a hike in the Placerita Canyon Park on Sunday. The airy smells of the mountain forest got me thinking about the sense of smell and how powerful it is. Norman Mailer said the nose is the writer's most important organ. I know what he means. Smells can reconnect you instantly to the past, can evoke memories -- or even abstract ideas -- with almost clairvoyant infallibility. You smell something and immediately you recall how you felt at that moment, even decades ago.
Think about the smells of the Christmas season: pungent pine, aromatic gingerbread cookies, sweet eggnog, and the homey scent of a crackling fire. Do they not bring you back to Christmases Past?
Smells that (I find) evoke strong past memories include: freshly cut grass; wooden planks that have been sawed with a table saw; Hai Karate cologne (I recently bought a 1969 bottle on eBay because my dad used to wear it); the smell of dry autumn leaves after you scrunch them in your hands; the damp moss on large rocks you find in the woods; cinnamon; newly fallen snow (yes, snow has a smell); Coppertone tanning lotion; gasoline; gym equipment; and brand new electronic products. They all bring me back.
What scents brings you back?