Sunday, February 27, 2011


by Kate Collins

Have you ever read about the experiments done with newborns to see if they could accurately identify their mothers by their scents? Turned out that they could, although I could have predicted as much. I’m very sensitive to scents. I knew what my babies smelled like. I knew my mother’s scent – Red in later years, Tabu in her earlier years. I knew my husband’s scent. His was a mix of powdery deodorant, traces of Drakkar Noir, and his own personal chemistry. Totally unique and it drew me like a magnet.

I bring this up because I detect his scent a lot these days. I know he’s reminding me that he’s still with me. It will suddenly fill my nostrils after I’ve been sitting at the computer for too long, as if to remind me to get up and stretch, have a cup of tea. I’ll get a burst of that scent when I see something that reminds me of him and start to feel blue. Sometimes I’ll open the laundry room door to put in a load of clothing, and detect his scent. It’s comforting to know he’s with me.

I’ve also been awakened to the scent of coffee brewing, just as I used to be when my husband was still with me. Usually it’ll happen if I oversleep, a gentle reminder to get up and get going. Sometimes I need that a lot.

Scent ties in so closely with my memories, too. If I get a whiff of Noxema, I’m instantly transported back to my grandmother’s house, where I’m five years old again, bouncing on her bed while she puts her hair in pincurls and covers it with a hairnet. How many of you are old enough to remember hairnets?

Cinnamon buns baking in the oven will also take me back to my childhood. My mom used to use leftover pie crust to make tiny little cinnamon and sugar pie shells in empty aluminum pot pie pans. One for all three of us kids. It was a special treat.

Do you have a favorite childhood memory that is triggered by a scent? Any certain food or perfume that reminds you of someone who has passed?