I smell….school!

blogDSCN0263There!  That’s it!  Did you catch a whiff of that?  I definitely smell school, do you?

The other morning, I awakened and took a nice deep breath while I lazily stretched in bed.  And that’s when I caught a whiff of the air circulating in and out of our bedroom via the open windows.  It smelled like school.

I can’t really describe it with words, but there’s a distinct smell in the early morning air this time of year.   The days are still warmed by the sunshine, but the nights commence their descent into cooler temperatures.  I’m certain there must be a scientific reason for what transpires but I don’t know what it is.  All I know is that fragrance in the air reminds me of going back to school.

Even though it’s been decades since I jumped on a school bus or packed up my belongings for dorm life, that smell transports me back in time to the first few days of a new school year.   I can vividly recall standing outside my house, shivering a bit in the cool, morning air, excited and yet a little nervous, waiting for the school bus to arrive on the first day back to school.  Yep, the scent in the air reminds me of crisp recently purchased school clothes, clean white tennis shoes, freshly sharpened pencils, and pristine notebooks with no doodles defacing them.

This time of year, stores tout their back-to-school sales and the aisles overflow with everything you ever wanted to start a new school year with and more.  At the discount store, I maneuver past mothers with children in tow loading up their shopping carts with packs of crayons, glue, rulers, markers, and backpacks.   College aged students heap all those dorm necessities into their carts.  A walk in the mall reveals families purchasing school clothes and the shoe stores swarm with children trying on shoes.   I notice school buses timing their practice runs.

My nose is right.  It’s time to go back to school.   Gone are the days when my children and I piled in the car, school supply lists in hand, to begin the annual ritual of back to school shopping.   The arrival of a new school year generated excitement with transitions from elementary to middle to high school to college, another season of sports practices and games, different schedules to learn, and new teachers to meet.

After a summer of leisure and relaxation, the smell of fall in the air meant the hustle and bustle of a new school year was about to descend and we had to get ready! But now at Mama’s Empty Nest, the scent of school in the air just ushers in a new season.  I can sit on my front porch swing in the warmth of the afternoon, watch the school buses drive by, hear the chatter of students on the bus, and reminisce about those days of putting my own children on the big yellow bus for another year of learning.

It’s my second year of not sending someone back to school, and in Chapter 8, Page 22, of my book of Opportunity, I can honestly say I’ve made peace with that.  No marathon shopping excursions, no frantic run to Wal-Mart in college town because we forgot this, that, or the other thing.  I find extending summer relaxation into this back to school season enjoyable, but the best part of all is my check book is a lot healthier too!

© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Ahhhh…breathe it in

blogIMG_0639Take a deep breath.  Inhale and savor the sweet aroma of the first grass cutting of the season.

For me, nothing smells more like spring and summer than the scent of blooming flowers and a freshly cut lawn.

For one day last week, we experienced lovely weather here at Mama’s Empty Nest – temperatures in the mid-to-high 70’s and abundant sunshine.  It served to revive both my spirit and the landscape outside our country home.

Flowers awakened from their long winter naps and burst forth in color.  Yellow happy daffodils, white daffodils with bright sunshiny centers, pretty in pink and purple hyacinths, ruby red tulips and deep purple grape hyacinths greeted me with their coats of color and their endearing scents.  Just a couple days of warmth and sunshine coaxed our rhododendron bushes around our front porch to spontaneously burst into an array of color as well.

Our yard is a good two and one half acres of green.   Interspersed here and there a few trees stand, but they are still fairly small, so the lawn is a wide expanse of grass. (Okay, I’ll be honest – there are lots of weeds in there too, but hey, they’re green!)  With the outrageous amounts of rain we’ve endured this spring, our lawn had grown quite high, so it was time for the first mowing of the season.

Middle daughter and I set forth for an afternoon on the wedding plan quest.  When we left the house, hubby was maneuvering the trusty John Deere lawn tractor back and forth as he mowed the acreage.

Upon our arrival back home, it was dusk.  The sun was setting and providing its usual spectacular view from our surroundings.  We stepped out of daughter’s car and that’s when it engulfed us.

The aroma.   Oh, so lovely.  There’s something about the scent of freshly mowed grass that just makes you audibly sigh and know that all is right with the world.  I believe it is just another of God’s gifts to us.

That aroma heightens the senses, brightens the mood and brings yester-year memories of spring days and summer evenings to mind.   Both daughter and I actually voiced “ahh” simultaneously as the scent entered our noses.

And then we heard the sounds that also accompany spring and summer here in the country.  The peepers.

Spring peepers, a chorus of tiny little frogs who live in the marsh behind our property,  serenade us with their peeping songs.

These little guys usher spring into our area and we hear them throughout the summer as well.  They remind me of  tiny trumpeters heralding the season’s change.

We just stood there in the driveway for a couple of minutes absorbing the scent and sound, so refreshing after a frustrating day in search of wedding gowns.

We looked at each other and smiled.  And I remarked to my daughter, one of the dearest loves of my life, “You can’t experience this in the city.”

As I recall the bliss of that moment in my book of Opportunity, I’m so grateful for my home in the country on this fourth page of Chapter Five.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I smell a memory

blogDSCN0618 - CopyI’m a smeller.

Oh, I don’t mean I smell awful, although on a hot summer day I imagine I don’t exactly smell fresh!  I’m a smeller because I possess a pretty keen sense of smell.

If there’s an odor in the air, pleasant or malodorous, it seems to reach my nose before my husband’s.  Often I ask him, “What’s that smell?” and receive this reply, “What smell?”

The sense of smell, which apparently triggers memories in a powerful and instantaneous way, fascinates me.  Actually, my earliest memory is a smell – not a person, not a sight, not an event, but an odor.

When I was a just a toddler, my grandparents lived on a farm for a time.  I have no memory whatsoever of visiting them, but I’ve seen pictures of my little self there, petting kittens, posing with my older sisters.   So I know I’ve been to that farm, but I can’t recall what it looked like or any event that happened there.

As I grew up, whenever I smelled a particular smoky odor, for some reason it reminded me of my grandparents.  One day after puzzling over the connection, I asked my mother about it.  She informed me an old smoke-house (where meat was smoked) existed on the farm so that odor permeated throughout my grandparents’ home.

Aha.  My first memory – smoked meat – explains why I can’t turn down bacon, doesn’t it?

I’ve read that our sense of smell, more than any other sense, is vitally linked to the part of the human brain that processes emotion.  It’s no wonder then that every time I handle a handmade quilt crafted by my grandmother long before my birth,  I inhale the smell of it and it brings me to tears.  That quilt smells like my beloved Grandma, who I lost when I was nine.

Other odors – and not just onions – cause me to weep also.  If I catch a whiff of Chantilly perfume, I automatically recall my late dear mother-in-law; that scent, her favorite, reminds me how much I miss her.  Smelling freshly laundered and hung outside to dry clothes evoke sweet memories of my mother as does the clean aroma of soap.

Fragrances mesh firmly with my memories, nice or otherwise, which is also why the men’s after shave, Brut, brings my first boyfriend to mind, although I’d definitely rather forget him.  I don’t enjoy the scent of roses, although I love to partake of their beauty.  Just don’t make me smell them.  There must be some negative connection to their fragrance, but I haven’t figured out yet what it might be.

Researchers say children possess more acute senses of smell than older folks and that as we age, we start losing some of our smell-ability.  I lost my ‘smeller’ once when I had an atrocious case of bronchitis, sinus and double ear infections all at once.  It was Thanksgiving time and I couldn’t smell a darn thing.

No delicious aroma of roasting turkey or pumpkin pie registered with me, not even a hint.  To top it all off, I lost my sense of taste at the same time.  When I closed my eyes and chewed my food, I couldn’t distinguish mashed potatoes from peas – certainly not an enjoyable Thanksgiving feast!  So I hope to maintain my sense of smell as long as possible!

Not only can odors flood our thoughts with memories, they supposedly influence our moods and even affect work performance.  You could try to use that one as an excuse.  “Boss, I just can’t finish my work today because there’s this awful smell here.”  Just don’t blame it on the person in the next cubicle or your boss!

Yesterday I realized how grateful I am for the sense of smell.  As I arrived home, I inhaled a most aromatic odor – roasted chicken wrapped in bacon, baked to perfection by my hubby – which almost smelled as good to me as he does.     Nothing welcomes us like a house full of home-cooked aroma.

Helen Keller, who lost her sense of sight and hearing at an early age, once said, “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.”

The aroma of fresh-cut grass transports me back to my childhood.  What about you? What smells conjure up pleasant memories for you?  Take a minute, reflect and share your thoughts on this 11th page, Chapter Three in my book called Opportunity.

“Don’t hurry.  Don’t worry.  You’re only here for a short visit.  So don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.” ~ Walter Hagen

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com