The scents that permeated my childhood linger


Millie Alt

More smells that flood me with memories–these, more recent

Although my sight memory may fade with time, carrying away my best days on the river of time, my scent memory lingers.

Smells trigger my memories as powerfully as music, and several were so prolific throughout my childhood that they force me into a state of nostalgia with one whiff.

Hyacinths and fresh soil are the Home and Garden Show. They are waking up early, eating pancakes and powdered orange drink. They are the fruits of hard labor, the enjoyment of months of hard work. They are my mother’s perseverance, patience, and dedication. They are home.

Cut grass and damp mulch are summer. They are days, weeks, and months spent in the woods, in our yards, feet bare. They are make-believe games, fantasy and reality blurred, utterly ridiculous and utterly perfect. They are innocence and unfiltered joy. They are home.

Beach air and sand are my other summer, my other home. They are my family, a comfort to return to after a long day of sun, burnt, dehydrated, and simply happy. They are my best days. They are pronto pups and seagulls and my mom telling me not to fall into the channel. They are gelato and secret hills. They are home.

My home is filled with these smells, returning like phantoms with sightless memories on their wings.

Laundry detergent and dryer sheets are the weekend. They are the reset, the calm before the stormy week. They are the naivete of hating those days off, wishing to be back in school. They are clean and warm and fresh. They are home.

Chalk is disorganization. It is chaos, but the kind you can burrow into and sleep in comfortably, never waking. It is sweat and often tears. It is pain and perseverance and hours of my life supporting an endeavor that I have never understood and never hope to. It is home.

Chili and pine are winter. They are Christmas. They are cold and warmth together. They are the first snow, a warm fireplace. They are the house filled with happy people. They are singing and feeling silly and loving every second. They are home.

The track after the rain is running. It is cross country, my second family. It is laughing and coughing and hating the work but loving each other. It is home.

Baking bread is love. It is love mixed into every action, every pinch of salt. It is a clean, cozy house, a warm hug. It is love; it is life. It is my family. It is home.

My home is filled with these smells, returning like phantoms with sightless memories on their wings. They bring me back to my life as it was, carefree and genuine and happy. Oh, so happy. They will linger as long as I do, reminding me to live more simply, to focus on the good things: the little things that remind me of home.