Follow the Scent – Follow My Life

[Part 1 of a 3-Part Series]

I can chronicle my life through many things, like the music I listened to; or the styles of clothes I wore; or the cars I drove. I can also trace my life is through the perfumes I have used over the years.

The olfactory bulb is included in the brain’s limbic system. This part of the brain also controls emotion, behavior, and memory. That’s why smell is a powerful sense. It can trigger strong reactions. For me smelling a certain smell can hark me back to childhood or invoke a good or bad memory of some occurrence in my life..

As a little girl I remember my Grandma wore Lily of the Valley perfume. It came in a funky green bottle with a picture of the flowers on a blue label. I liked that smell because I liked my Grandma. My Mom wore Joy by Jean Patou. Funny, I did not like that fragrance.

The first cologne I fell in love with was called Orange Blossom. I discovered it during a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park at Virginia’s Gift Shop. It smelled heavenly and I had to have it!

Luckily I had my own money from my allowance as there was no way either of my parents would have spent money on something as frivolous as cologne. As a nine year old, I considered it a fabulous purchase!

The small brown bottle came packaged in a miniature wooden crate with tiny artificial orange blossoms glued on top. I treasured that bottle and kept it well hidden in a drawer with other prized possessions.

I wore it sparingly throughout elementary school. Looking back, I wonder if it cast any allure my way as far as Paul was concerned. (See my blog dated 10/01/10 if you’re interested in that story.)

A few years ago I found Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom Cologne on line, which is described as: “The scent of clementine leaves in the morning dew sparkles above a heart of orange blossom and water lily, transporting the wearer to a garden oasis.” It’s similar to the Knott’s Berry Farm scent, which smelled more like an orange Creamsicle than a garden oasis. I keep a small vial of Jo’s version next to my computer in my writing room. When I need a jump-start, I take a whiff.

For centuries bridal bouquets were made from orange blossoms. The flowers were symbols of purity, chastity, and eternal love. In Spain orange flowers represent happiness and fulfillment as the orange tree produces flowers and fruit at the same time. But more important, the scent was known to calm nervous brides!

There is an orange blossom essential oil called neroli— which was named for a sixteenth century princess from Nerola, Italy, a big fan of the scent. Neroli is now used for aromatherapy purposes to treat depression. It is also used to deal with stress and ease fear. It is known as the inspirational scent as it stimulates creativity, particularly in music and writing.

I wonder if way back when as a nine year old I was drawn to this fragrance because I liked to write—OR I just liked popsicles?

Next up Part 2: The Scents of Middle School and High School.

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