My nostrils are time machines

Scent, that sense most intrinsically linked to memory, is a wondrous thing. The faintest aroma on the thinnest of breezes can unexpectedly transport us into the warm embrace of a lost loved one, evoke the gentle touch of a past lover and deliver the sun-soaked tranquility of a favourite escape. Memories dulled by time, brought to life by a familiar smell.

I was reminded of the transportive power of scent this week while at the home of my grandparents in Edmonton, Alberta. As I walked through the doorway, anticipating the warm smile of my grandfather and a gentle hug from my grandmother, the familiar aroma’s instantly delivered me to my childhood. A gleeful summers afternoon spent flying model airplanes in the front yard, the warm glow of candles extinguished by a thunderous birthday breath, the anticipation of cream cheese icing being spread on warm carrot cake,  the comforting touch soothing a scraped knee. A flood of emotion and a tide of memories delivered by a simple combination of smell.

Occasionally the same powerful journey delivered by my grandparents house is also provided by wine. The sweet cherry notes of a California Pinot Noir become a sunset spent in the hillsides of the Napa Valley. The lifted floral notes of a great Nebbiolo lead to a drive through the Langhe hills of Northern Italy. The dancing aromatics of a fine champagne bring a past celebration to new life. The aroma of a wine can become a permanent link to the events that accompany its consumption, to be revisited at a future time whether intended or not.

I prize sight which provides the stunning vista at the end of an afternoon hike. I adore hearing when the laughter of a child graces my ears. These senses are truly miraculous. However in those moments of memories unveiled and experiences relived it is scent for which I am most grateful.




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