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Where in the World? Following My Nose Home Again

Where in the World? Following My Nose Home Again

It’s one of those things-good intentions. I had my good intentions all sorted out, organized and packed for our trip.  I was far ahead of my thinking game having drafted some posts and jotted ideas for posting while on our little vacation. Then my boys and I set off on our little road trip with my mom on board (Mr. Rice and Beans is holding down the home front and thankfully doing a mighty fine job of it! We wish he were with us but there’s that crazy breadwinner thing he does so he kissed us happily and waved us on our way). We decided to wind on down the road a little and visit some family my boys and I hadn’t seen in a while and get out of the desert heat for a bit. I’d planned on continuing to blog for the most part, but my best intentions have been waylaid by the reality of being away from the regular daily grind (Imagine that!) I found myself wondering what kinds of Rice and Beans Life thoughts I could share when my mind and heart are off wandering at will and I’m chasing my boys and playing and having a good old time. This is when I remembered that I’d recently run across an interesting post by Gretchen Rubin on her blog for The Happiness Project. She’d recently posted about her current passion for scent. She’s enamored of perfumes and cultivating good smells and she wondered if that were a worthy thing to be enamored of. Some commenters didn’t really think so but I did.

You see, the sense of smell is a funny thing. It can take me back to a pinpoint moment in time instantaneously. The aroma of bacon and of rice and beans puts me in my grandma’s kitchen faster than just about anything else. This scent will  bring upon me a sudden longing for the sweet, soft Louisiana drawl of the woman who engulfed me in her love. And though I will never have that earthly experience again, those smells can make me lean my head to the side and close my eyes and be in her lap or holding her hand or snuggled up beside her in all the ways I loved so dearly and make me miss her so much yet bring me such deep and true happiness for having had those moments in my life. The sense of smell can be that strong.

As we travelled along down the highway, my boys and my mom and me, we passed fields and orchards and plenty of cows. My oldest wanted to know what the heck that smell was and wrinkled his nose up when we told him “cows.” We drove through cities that I had lived in when I was a younger woman and I purposefully inhaled when I got out of the car when we stopped for a short break. I found it remarkable to be transported by the smell of landscaping and asphalt, smog and heat with a hint of ocean wetness in the background. It was summer in that city, sweet yet undeniably urban. I smiled. I was 18 again. As we travelled on toward my hometown I knew I would soon open the window to smells of my childhood. When I opened my car door outside my parents house in the town I grew up in I was ten years old for an instant, riding my bike down an old country road. The smell of earth and orchard, heat and sage, cut grass and something undefinable yet peculiarly home had my heart hurtling back in time. Smell does this to me.

I don’t know if other people have this experience necessarily or if it’s just the “dog nose” I was left with from giving birth to two rambunctious boys. Maybe it’s that I have left so many homes behind and been too many places so I notice it more, the simple scent of a place. But my sense of smell carries me. It connects me and transports me to times and places long gone by. It takes me vividly down a path that, when I close my eyes in that moment, is much like watching a movie of the life I once lived. It’s remarkable. It brings me a sweet sadness and a happy gratefulness for those times and for the fact that I can, in this way, have them back, however briefly.  Just a whiff and I’m riding on the breath of my past. I wonder if my boys will be so lucky and I wonder what smells will carry them. That is the power of scent. It is simple. Rice and beans kind of simple. Take you home again kind of simple. It makes me infinitely happy. And anything that brings infinite happiness is worth sharing.

So how about you? Does smell take you back in an instant? Or is it another of your senses? Does it stop you in your tracks? Does it tug at your heart?  Share your thoughts or the smells that carry you back in the Comments.

As a side note know that I’m still around. I’ll be posting a little irregularly for the rest of this month as we follow our bliss a little bit, but September should find me back to my regular posting schedule again. 


11 responses »

  1. Smell definitely is a big thing for me. Though as I get older, it seems that my sense of smell just “ain’t what it used to be”. Which I find a bit annoying. The allergies that seem to get worse with age probably don’t help either though.
    Have fun on your trip! I could sure use one! 😉

  2. Yes Tara…..the whole smell thing I can relate to. Every time I cook a pot of pinto beans it takes me to Rolla, Missouri where Jerry and I lived when we first got married cause he was in the Army at Ft. Leonard Wood. It was our main meal because we were living on not alot of money. You can probably relate……Army pay. I can’t believe how it grabs me and yanks me back to that house. Good memories. Love to you and yours, Sue

  3. ABSOLUTELY! I too have a ‘dog’s nose!’ Always have & always will. Friends laugh at me when I make it a point to stop into the Briar Patch (a tobacco shop) in the local mall. I always walk in & ask for the “Tapestry” cannister where I dip my head in as far as I can, close my eyes to see my Grandfather’s smile, feel his warm arms embracing me, hear his belly laughter & smell him all around me. It is one of two scents that I hold closest to my heart (the other being the smell of baby boy’s hair).

    You are NOT alone! Great post!

    BTW…welcome back however long you’re here!

  4. When I go back to Woodland in the summer, the overwhelming smell of tomatoes brings me back. Reminds me of driving on Road 98 from Woodland to Dixon with piles of tomatoes lining every corner. I miss that smell in the summer around here.

  5. I have a strong sense of smell – drives my family crazy sometimes. Smell though can transport me instantly to specific times, places or events. The smell of redwood takes me to the Sierra’s when we’d camp and visit the enormous groves of trees. My grandmother just passed away a few months ago at 99 and I was given some of her things. The scent that was attached to them jogged so many memories of visits to my grandparents home in South Carolina. A while back I passed a tobacco shop and smelled a cherry tobacco. For a brief time my dad smoked a pipe when we lived in England when I was a kid and that was one of his favorite tobaccos. It evoked so many memories and then the smell of bayberry candle is always associated with Christmas. It’s amazing how powerfully memories are revived when certain scents are introduced.

  6. I have 2 very vivid “nose smell” memories. My great grandmother used a facial powder that was always on her vanity dresser. A few years back I was in Longs drugs store and thought I recognized her facial powder container. I closed my eyes and took one small sniff. I was a five year old little girl in my great grandmothers bedroom playing with her powder. Also, the smell of real genuine leather products gives me flash backs to my very first school book bag.

  7. I loved every thing about this post. Stever and I were just talking about your home town the other day and how much we loved being there. I think we both secretly wished we could have lived out there quite often. Most of my best memories as a child are from there…on a bike on a country road with the three of you. As I have a pot of beans soaking on the stove right now, getting ready to become chili….in a pot that I think used to belong to Aunt Sue (I got from Mom…I remember it as Grandma’s vegetable soup pot…) I thought about her, and the smell of bacon and the sound of the theme song of the Channel 3 news at five o clock. And beans….oh the smell of her beans cooking…

    Man, I really miss you guys.

  8. I’m one of the (un)lucky? people who has no real sense of smell to speak of. This is a wonderful thing when it comes to poopy diapers and say, skunks. But I also miss out on a lot of wonderful smells like fresh baked anything and nice perfume.


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