Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Smells of my Childhood Summers
As many of you know I am a super perfume fanatic. I love to wear all sorts of different perfumes and change them with every season, time of day, occasion, clothes I'm wearing or mood. I read a number of perfume blogs, forums and news sites every day with my morning Earl Grey and I have to say, I can't think of a better way to prepare myself for whatever may come my way. Reading something of interest really lifts one's spirit and helps to set the mood for the day's chores, etc.
Today we were talking about the smells of our childhood summers. It's interesting because our olfactory memory is really a very strong thing and could be used as a tool to help us recall situations, events and moments we would otherwise have forgotten. There are people that I remember instantly when I smell lavender. There are houses I lived in that I remember for different reasons when I smell horses, or dirt roads, cut grass - you name it. There is a friend of mine (more like a former friend because we never talk or travel in the same circles) and in my day to day she comes to mind because I use lavender disinfectants, cleaning supplies and colognes (I really love lavender), and whenever I would go to her place, it always smelled of lavender. It was a very distinct lavender (she always bought the same brand of cologne from Paris and sprayed it on herself, her kids and her house). Whenever I get a whiff of lavender I think of her.
When we were kids we used to run around and do no good for all of summer. We were such rascals. We wore our bathing suits all day long whether wet or dry because we were in and out of the pool constantly so there was really no need to change. We would climb guava trees and eat the guavas right there while we dangled from the tree's branches. Mangoes, mangoes, lots of mangoes. We would eat them throughout the day. They were sticky, sweet and super messy. The juice would drip all over our faces and arms and run down our elbows. Since we were in bathing suits anyway it didn't matter.
There was this one place we lived in that had a sugar cane plantation. We would harvest our own sugarcane and we all knew how to peel it (thinking back on that now I think it was really dangerous because we had to have machetes and they were sharp and enormous and we were really young). We would chew and suck on the sugar cane until it was powder and then start again. We ran around a lot. We would roll around in the grass and then freak out because we were all itchy. Jumping in the pool to wash off the irritation from the grass was a common occurrence. We would get sunburned and over the course of the summer months would start looking really brown and some of us black even, with a hint of red.
I would destroy my hair with all the chlorine and then douse it in wasteful amounts of cheap conditioner. We never had much mosquito repellent so we used those coils that smoke the mosquitoes out. Remember those? They were cheap and plentiful and they were everywhere. Whenever we had any ailment whatsoever, we would get dowsed in Pasta d'Agua (a zinc like paste) and prayer.
We had to go inside to eat lunch and for quiet time. Every day, no matter what, we had to spend 2 hours after lunch reading and having quiet time. This was planned in this way - after lunch and for 2 hours - because if we went into the pool or ran around before our stomachs were given 2 whole hours to digest our lunch, we would get a cramp and die. If you went into the pool 1hr and 15min after lunch, you were basically a gonner - or so our parents wanted us to believe. Were you told that lie as well? I remember sitting there reading and counting the seconds so that when 2 hours had passed I could run outside and fly a kite, swim, climb a tree or what have you.
It was tons of fun living in big houses as kids and using the entire property (and then some) for our shenanigans. We didn't watch TV, have computers or anything electronic come to think of it. But we made it, we had a blast and we created lifelong memories of fun in the sun.
So, to sum it all up, the smells of my childhood summers were: mangoes, guavas and guava trees, sugar cane, oranges, chlorine, grass, mosquito coils and Pasta d'Agua. What are yours?