Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I sense something ...

Have you thought about your sensory system lately? I know, that's a pretty heavy thought for a Tuesday morning. Think about it -- are there certain sounds, smells or tastes that remind you of something else or another place and time? I live on a mountain and lately they've been doing some construction on the other side of the hill. The tractors start at 7am sharp and sometimes work as late as 9-10pm. Yeah, it's getting old real fast. This morning when the squeaky tractor fired up, it made me think of sounds that remind me of other things. For example ...

Vacuums -- the sound of our vacuum reminds me of the panic my family went through trying to get our house ready for a showing when it was on the market. Sometimes we'd have less than 15 minutes to get the place picked up and get ourselves our of there. To this day, just the sound of the vacuum brings that rushed feeling back to me.

Mini-bikes -- the sound of a mini-bike going by reminds me of when I was pregnant with my first child. Our neighbor used to ride his bike back and forth along his property. He was an elderly man and I knew he was just having fun, but it drove me batty for awhile.

70s Elvis -- most of Elvis' songs from the 70s remind me of my mom. She was a nurse and worked literally all the time. When she did have a day off and stayed home, she usually had Elvis playing in the house. Just the sound of some of those old songs takes me back to a time where I'd be playing Barbies on the floor while my mom sipped her coffee, read, or knitted.

In addition to sounds, there are certain tastes that take me back ...

Bread & butter -- eating a piece of bread & butter is okay, but if I fold the bread and make it into a butter sandwich, I'm reminded of my grandma. She used to make those for me when I was hungry and it was close to dinnertime.

Milk -- every now and then when I drink some milk that's really cold, especially from one of those little cartons, I'm reminded of nursery school. I don't remember nursery school, but milk triggers something in my brain.

Jello & Cool Whip -- I love how these taste together, but I can't eat them and not think of opening day of Six Flags Magic Mountain. What's the connection? I ate a ton of Jello & Cool Whip the night before and I was sick as a dog on opening day. I was so sick that I got pushed around in a wheelchair. It was a big deal that the park was opening and I didn't want to miss being there. The combo of those 2 foods always reminds me of that.

And there are certain smells that take me to another place, such as ...

Tomato soup -- I love tomato soup and I don't have any problem eating it. However, every now and then when I smell it, I'm reminded of 2nd or 3rd grade when the boy sitting next to me got sick on the first day of school. He threw up and tomato soup went all over the floor. Fortunately, that's just a smell thing and never affected my ability to eat the soup later.

Orange blossoms -- I grew up in the east end of Ojai, California and the whole area was filled with huge orange groves. I loved walking home when the orange blossoms were blooming. When I was home recently, we drove around my old neighborhood and the smell of the orange trees took me back.

How about you -- have any weird sensory triggers?


  1. It's amazing how our sensory memory is so strong esp. the sense of smell.

  2. Okay this might not be too weird for a writer but I love the sounds of the clickety-clack of an old-school typewriter.

    So soothing...

  3. Kim -- That is a great one! Both the manuals and the electric have distinct memories for me. My grandparents had an old Royal typewriter that I learned how to use first. Then we went to the newer electric ones and they had a cool sound too.

  4. Certain scents remind me of my grandmother.
    The smell of Mary Kay night creme reminds me of my mom.
    And certain songs really take me back!
    I think certain senses really trigger memories.

  5. When I smell roses, I'm catapulted back to my grandmother's garden as a small child. In the summer, her backyard smelled like baked roses.

    When I smell marinara, I'm transported to cooking with my Granny.

    Great question!

  6. The smell of barns and animals reminds me of my great-grandparents barn next door,where we would play with the chickens and ducks and explore. The smell of Elmer's Glue and new crayons takes me back to kindergarten and first grade. Magic markers too. Freshly mowed grass reminds me of my childhood home in the country,and the carefree days of summer. What a great place to grow up that was. I'm sure there's lots more I'm not thinking of.


  7. The scent of 'White Shoulders' perfume always reminds me of my paternal grandmother. Her 'powder room' must have had every White Shoulders product out there.


  8. Oh, more good ones!

    Stef -- My grandmother wore White Shoulders too. I love the smell of that perfume, but I'm out of it right now. It always reminds me of her. If I were to see one of those old mini-sized sample tubes of Avon lipstick, that would remind me of her too because she used to use those all the time.

  9. What a great blog and I so agree! I love the smell of Peppermint candles burning. As weird as it sounds when my Dad died after a surgery I was running around doing the good daughter thing taking care of my Mom. I was an emotional wreck and was also working with strep and an ear infection. I went to a dry cleaners to pick up my Moms suit and they had a peppermint andle burning. It just relaxed me and gave me time to collect my thoughts. I was my saving grace back then and still is today when I am stressed.
    Baby Powder! I love this smell and love candles in this scent as well as I have sampled a body spray in this scent. I mean the lovely scent of a clean baby is like a kiss from Jesus to me.
    I know what you mean about the orange blossums. On our way home from Cali 2 years ago driving along I5 it was about 10AM and the sun was up and so warm. The whole care took on this amazing scnet and I was freaking out in love with it. Hubby said it was the orange grove. I told him if he ever had a chance to move into the middle of a grove to do it. I would sell everything I have to live in the middle of one. I would sleep with my window open and let that amazing glorious scent wake me up.

  10. The smell of gardenia or jasmine, tropical rains and salty ocean air remind me of Hawaii. I spent three consecutive summer vacations in Oahu, staying with my Aunt, Uncle (who was stationed there) & Cousins, while in elementary school. Loved every minute of it and it always went by too quickly.

    The smell of WD-40, or anything related to auto repair (like oil or antifreeze) reminds me of my Dad. He's an auto electrician/mechanic. They bring forth the countless amount of times I've seen him in the garage, fixing an innumerable amount of things.

    The smell of sunblock reminds me of amusement parks and my girls. We're always gooping up when there's a long day of fun to be had!


  11. My Papaw had a dairy farm. Whenever I open the milk case at the grocery store I'm reminded of the pasteurizing house. We used to eat fresh butter on Ritz crackers. Yum!

  12. Sounds and smells are powerful! When I hear a certain toy of my youngest, I start to feel sick. That was the same toy that my oldest used to always play when I was pregnant and had morning sickness!

  13. Great blog Rena! And funny how certain things trigger memories.

    When I was pregnant with Ryan I craved Taco Bell badly. Their tacos have a certain greasy smell that is pretty distinct. I obviously ate my share though because now when I do smell Taco Bell food, I can't eat it but I am reminded of being pregnant!

    I also can no longer ride carousels - I did when I was pregnant and got so dizzy and sick I was out of it for the rest of the day. I blamed it on pregnancy but to this day I still get dizzy and sick on carousels - but can go on any other ride.

    hm, not really a smell or a taste but I live to be different! lol