As I write this I am within "nose shot" of two of my favorite scents: lilac and lily.
I inhale, remember, and smile.
Many a scientist has explored why scent and memory are so intertwined. A brief internet search reveals articles about the "olfactory bulb," and its connections to the brain's amygdala and hippocampus.
My brain, briefly fascinated, started to fade as the forest of technical terms thickened. The poet in my brain brightened when I came across this quote on the Pacifica Perfume website. It's from Diane Ackerman, and her book "A Natural History of the Senses":
“Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once."
Poignant land mines indeed.
One whiff of lilac and I'm transported to my childhood back yard, where a grand old lilac still blooms. That tree gave us blossoms for the grade school flower show; a perch for a birdhouse built by one of my brothers; a hiding place for Easter eggs. When we played wiffle ball, the lilac roughly marked third base.
That tree is the mother of the lilac I transplanted some 20 years ago to a corner by our front porch. Each year I eagerly await the blooming season, and keep my kitchen vase filled.
The lily I mentioned, whose flowers have mostly faded, was an Easter gift from our church in memory of my dad, who passed away in January. Whenever I see it, I'm reminded of him, and also the wonderful, caring community of St. Peter's.
This was a happy/sad Easter, one of the many "firsts" families have to mark as they move through their loss.
Aside from one nephew now in California, our family was all together for the traditional feast at my Mom and Dad's house. I find such comfort in their company.
I'm reminded of a phrase I often use. When there's a party or event that I can't attend for some reason, I'll say, "I'll be there in spirit."
That's how Dad was with us at Easter, and will be all the days to come.
Good to remember.