One of the most powerful—and protective—tools humans possess is their ability to smell.
That sickly-sweet odor that warns you not to eat decomposing meat? The musky warm scent that inspires you to nibble your husband's neck resulting in, less than a year later, the delicate milky-baby scent that compels you to nurture your newborn? Wood smoke that alerts to a forest fire, or draws people round a campfire for 'Smores, and social bonding? Pleasure, pain, fear, desire—emotions and actions, incited by certain odors. Memories and instinct conjured through smell.
Baking Powder Biscuits fresh from the oven take me back to the toasty-warm kitchen of first my Grandma Mac, and then Aunt Shirley's, ranch house. I see them bending to pull the scorched pans from the old wood stove, the steam rising from the biscuit as it's pulled apart, butter pooling in the fluffy white centers. I see woolen mitts and socks hung on a line on the wall behind the wood stove to dry, and my uncle at the kitchen table tucked in his favorite corner of the black vinyl-covered bench seat next to the huge picture window, where he could use his binoculars to keep an eye on expectant cows.
Cinnamon and spice, on the other hand, transport me to the kitchen in my childhood home with its yellow appliances, and my mom, apron around her waist, sliding Jumbo Raisin Cookies on to cooling racks, her long black hair tied back in a ponytail with one of the thick fluffy colorful lengths of yarn sold for that purpose. I feel the wooden spoon in my hands and taste the raw batter, hear my brother begging, "Me, too!" And when it's cold outside, or I feel alone or lonely inside, I pull out my Kitchen-Aid mixer, flour, butter, and sugar, and revive those memories in my kitchen, revive that sense of warmth, security, happiness…love. I create the scents, and with them the people, the memories, because without them, where would I be?
Nothing reaches the intellect before making its appearance in the senses. ~Latin proverb