Sunday, November 17, 2013

*The Scents of Home

The screen door slammed shut behind me, after walking up the gravel driveway where the school bus had deposited the seven of us.  

"Mo-om!" Always two syllables in the word mom when I wanted to find her. "We're ho-ome!" She was usually up in her sewing room, or in the kitchen. The smell of home-baked bread filled my nostrils. I would find her in a bit; I just wanted her to know we were home. I was hungry after a long day at school, and the smells from the kitchen enticed me to follow my nose.

The Iseman-Beidler Home in Shipman, Virginia in the seventies.
The sweet memories I have of home are based on smells, one of my strongest memory triggers. Onions and garlic sautéing on the stove, smoke from the chimney drifting over the yard, bread out of the oven; all of these have a profound affect on me. It seems I passed on my love of sensory experiences to my children.

My daughter and I have bonded over our reaction to the sense of touch. Whenever we shop, you can find us gliding our hands over every single towel, blanket, rug, and sweater. If it's soft, we have to stop, and share the feeling. With my boys, we seem to connect over smells.

Every time Bridger visited, he would stand in front of the linen closet and take a deep, inhaling breath.  

"Aaaaah..." he would exhale.  "I love this."  

Me, too. The scents of Tide and Downy intermingled among the sheets and towels make me react the same way. He still loves to press his face into clothes fresh out of the dryer.

When the kids were babies, I would empty the clothing hot out of the dryer onto them on the couch. They each squirmed with delight at the warmth and smells that came from the clean clothes. I suppose that's one reason I have always loved doing laundry since becoming a mom. I control the scents that go into the washer and dryer, and I had more than two decades of pleasant memories of folding the clothes on the couch while the kids watched TV.

In November, my 26 year-old came to Marysvale to visit me for my birthday weekend. When he opened the door, he said, "Ahhhh, your house always smells so good."

"Thanks!  It's probably the pumpkin spice candle..."

"No," he cut me off, "You always make such good food, and that makes the house smell good."

I smiled. The smell of garlic and onions simmering on the stove always reminds me of coming home from school. Mom always started dinner that way, it seemed, and it smelled like love to me. A casserole in the oven or a roast in the crockpot smells like someone took the time to love me.

The boys helped me decorate my artificial tree before the holidays. There was no sweet smell of pine in my house, and we all missed it. We always had a real tree in our old farmhouse when they were growing up. Putting up the tree was one of my favorite memories with my children. 

These days, I put up my tree WEEKS before Christmas; I don't dare have a real one. We would have a real fire hazard on our hands if I had a real tree up for two months.  

During the fall and winter holidays, I fill our home with the smells of candles scented with cinnamon, evergreen, and pumpkin, and I wallow in the smells of dinner simmering on the stove, or baked goods coming out of the oven.

In the spring and summer, I love smelling the tropical scents of citrus fruits and coconut. Light floral smells, and anything that reminds me of summer tantalize my senses.

Whenever someone comments on the pleasant fragrances coming from my kitchen, it reminds me to fully dwell in the moment, and appreciate it for what it is.  My home smells like love, and the scent of today will be the memory of tomorrow.


  1. YES! I remember my mom piling warm clothes from the dryer on me as a child and it's such a wonderful memory - thanks for reminding me! Plus I have this funny bone reaction each time I remember about your tradition of SHOOTING the Christmas tree but I didn't know how it started. Now I have the complete picture - thanks for a great post.

    1. We had a clothesline, until I was old enough to help with laundry, and it seemed kind of silly to dump the clothes on myself. ;-) Ha ha ha.

  2. Warm fuzzies. I am sitting with a happy smile on my face. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Oh, Carol, you seem to always take the time to leave me a sweet note. It means so much.


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