I am baking an apple-pie and the smell wafts through the house. I love this smell. Although it doesn’t trigger any specific memories for me, it is a pleasant and warming smell. It reminds me to revisit Diane Ackerman’s book, A Natural History of the Senses. She tells a story describing how Helen Keller ascertained the path that each visitor took throughout her house SOLELY BY THE ODORS they carried with them as they moved through various hallways and rooms.
I ADORE the sense of smell, and am extremely attuned to it. Unlike many, I find pungent smells (body odor, skunks, intense cheeses) rather appealing, mainly because they are incredibly distinct. This brings me to my fascination with nostalgia, as a topic and how it relates to smells (physiologically) and actual longing or grieving, of sorts. Grieving for familiarity, perhaps. Or longing for food, even. Perhaps the smell association is linked to memory (nostalgia) so that we could survive when we were hunters and gatherers. By smells triggering memory, we were perhaps more capable of anticipating weather, tracking prey, and choosing suitable mates through the phermones they released.