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The Nose Knows


Quick – without thinking – what does winter smell like? What about summer?


Your answers, of course, will be uniquely yours, based upon your locale, and your “experience bank”. That being said, we share collective associations as

THE NOSE KNOWS WELL , drawing from universal human response.


Let’s see…for me, winter smells of blazing fireplaces, pine, and that indescribable freshness that fills the air just after a snowfall.


Summer fragrances? The boxwoods at my grandmother’s home in Virginia.


Salty air and suntan lotion. Ripe tomatoes. Basil. Freshly mowed grass. Spearmint sprigs. Peaches…

In our sense of smell resides our most powerful memory bank. Scent elicits strong emotional reactions via the limbic region of our brain. The olfactory message travels straight to the central nervous system, and voila, detailed memories replay, intact, in our mental “screening rooms”.

Therapists have worked with scent to trigger memory of extreme emotional pain, uncovering traumas which their patients have unconsciously locked down. This powerful tool has solved mysteries, uncovered crimes, and set many tortured souls free.

Aromatherapy, the use of scent for healing, has been in use for centuries, going back to ancient civilizations. There are scents which arouse deep spiritual response, those which can make us giddy with delight, even those which heal medical problems.

For instance, the essential oil of Clary Sage, which works via the thalamus portion of the brain to stimulate the release of the hormone encephalon, produces euphoria and even pain relief. It’s a good example of a universal, collective scent-response.

You are a walking diary of your own personal scent associations.

Castille soap, house paint, and sawdust trigger immediate and detailed memories of my second year on this planet. One whiff, and the sounds and pictures of my brief existence come right back, full focus.


No doubt, you have countless associations yourself. It’s fun when a “scent trigger” pops up and the ‘time machine’ in our brains leaps into action, sending us into moments of déjà vu.


Quick – what does autumn smell like?

- Karen Saloomey


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