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EVOKING MEMORIES

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 18, 2021

BRYCE ON LIFE

– How the sense of smell and taste can unleash vivid memories.

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Of all of our senses, smell and taste can trigger vivid emotional memories, even going so far as to making us feel like we are being transported back in time. Sight, sound, and touch are also useful, but smell and taste evokes powerful images for us. I have three personal examples that take me back in time to my youth.

The first involves the use of my taste buds. Lately I’ve taken to drinking fruit juices late at night. I have orange juice which is usually reserved for breakfast, but I also keep apple and grape juice in the fridge, along with a fruit punch, something I enjoyed in my youth. I usually opt for the diet lite versions of these products as I do not want the sugar, but they are still delicious and I like them particularly cold. When I drink them, the taste takes me back to the early 1960’s when I enjoyed such drinks in large tin cans which we would open with “church keys.” If I was lucky, I would drink from the can and distinctly remember the taste of the tin which added to its flavor. In particular, the grape drink reminds me of the cheap frozen popsicles we would enjoy during the summertime. Back then, we also poured the grape drink into a Tupperware popsicle maker and froze it. When I consume these drinks today, I am transported back for a few scant seconds where I enjoyed such heavenly drinks.

The second experience involves the use of smell. Sometimes, early in the morning, when I go to retrieve the newspaper in the driveway, the sun is just starting to peek up over the horizon and I can smell the dew on the lawn. It’s even better if the grass was freshly cut. It’s at this moment when I return to my elementary school in Connecticut where I used to ride my old reliable J.C. Higgins bicycle early to school so my friends and I could play a couple of innings of baseball before the first bell. Our parents could never understand why we wanted to go to school so early, but they chalked it up as a positive sign we liked school. Actually, it was all about baseball. As I smell the morning today, I vividly remember what route I would take to school, how fast I would go on my bike, ever mindful not to let my books and baseball mitt pop out of my front basket.

The third experience also involves smell. You have heard me talk about my fly-fishing excursions in the past, particularly in North Carolina. There is something inspirational about working a stream, something rather peaceful and therapeutic. In my case, when I enter a babbling brook, I am again transported back to the Connecticut of my youth, where we would fish in streams with simple rods and reels, using stringers to secure our catches, and how to clean the fish afterwards. Near to the streams would be fruit trees and we would enjoy apples and peaches. We spent a lot of time in the streams, fishing and swimming, and building forts along the way to stay out of our parents’ eyes. It was a glorious time.

Our sense of smell and taste are powerful and a link to our past. It reminds us of the kitchens of our grandparents, certain restaurants, and of events in the past, small or epochal. It’s evoked by such simple things as aftershave lotion, burning leaves, pipe tobacco, cooking with charcoal brickets, bacon, burned toast, etc., and suddenly we are transported back to our youth. Sadly, as strong as these memories are, they last but a few precious seconds, which is long enough to remind me how lucky I was to enjoy such experiences.

First published: October 16, 2015

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – For a listing of my books, click HERE.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2021 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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