Friday, October 23, 2009


The 10 year old said it smelled like Christmas the other day.
It was cold outside and the furnace, which had kicked on a few days earlier, was running around the clock.
I remarked at Christian’s association of the cool outdoors and warm house and apparently some other comforting smells.
Likewise, his 8-year-old-brother a couple of months ago told me, “You smell like Aunt Peggy.”
I was taken back and shocked at his Will's senses.
My aunt, Peggy Ruppel, died unexpectedly at age 55 this past April and I brought home some of her favorite perfume “Opium” that I had not worn until the day Will said I smelled like her.
At that moment we all remembered Peggy and it was sad but comforting that something so simple like a smell could incite a fond memory.
Maybe I get emotional when it comes to the senses.
So many smells trigger certain places and certain times.
My grandmother Ruth McDonald wore - more often than not - a perfume by Evyan launched in 1945 called “White Shoulders.” Grandma’s been gone for 20 years now but I still smell her occasionally like when that woman pushed her cart by mine at Riesbeck’s the other day.
My grandmother Janice Watson’s signature scent is “Youth Dew” by Estee Lauder. She smells wonderful, and always will.
What I really wish is that I could bottle the way Grandma Watson’s 1800s farmhouse smells – like radiant gas heat mixed with clean laundry, hot tea and orange slices.
Bedrooms and bathrooms each have their own radiant floor heaters. There are fireplaces aglow in the office, parlor and living room. In the kitchen at least one burner is continually lit on the gas stovetop. And so in the wintertime the house envelopes me with its warm historic smell that will always be remembered as grandma’s house.
I loved the way the house I grew up in smelled too, which is a compliment to my mother, Judy McDonald given she had four children and a husband and all of their smells to deal with. Mom and a lot of her friends used Claire Burke Original room freshener. It contains roses, lavender and spice mixed with patchouli and vetiver. For a while Kroger marketed a spray air freshener that rivaled Burke’s trademark scent and I remember grocery shopping with mom and stocking up on canisters.
I have an affection for patchouli and enjoy wearing perfumes containing this mint that originated in East India and yields a fragrant oil. I’m always checking out Bath & Body Works latest scents to see if they contain patchouli.
I started wearing a new fragrance this week called Angel by Thierry Mugler, which contains patchouli.
I love the smell of Gerber’s Grins and Giggles Oatmeal Baby Wash, which we’ve been using for 10 years, since Christian was born.
This scent is no longer manufactured but I bought nearly a case of it at Odd Lots this past summer because I just can’t let it go.
We have maybe 12 bottles left.
Smells are like music they take you back to different times in your life and for a little while you remember ....

1 comment:

  1. I have always loved the smell of Play-Doh. It's not such a great smell lately, since the kids crumble it all over the floor and leave it out to dry and harden. :)