A few words on the power of scent, figured out based on the three best smells in the world:
- Palmolive Original Scent. Both of my grandmothers used Palmolive to wash dishes when I was a kid. That Palmolive smell is the essence of unconditional love and joy. My mother’s mother, delicate, tender, utterly undomestic, and unflinchingly supportive and loving to her grandchildren, cleaned her dishes with Palmolive. When we would help clean up after holiday meals, summer sandwich lunches, and Christmas cookie baking, we used that Palmolive. My father’s mother, tough, strong, domestically accomplished, and unflinchingly supporting and loving to her grandchildren, cleaned her dishes with Palmolive too. Helping clean up after hearty dinners and special treats and in between crafts and volunteering, we used that Palmolive. Those two women were very different, but identical in the way they loved and supported everything their grandchildren did. Even when we were less-than-gracious, poorly mannered, or downright snotty, both of them were loving and kind as they corrected us. Both made sure each of their grandchildren (16 all together) knew we were loved utterly and completely. Both supported us in whatever aspirations, big or small, we had. Both have been gone many years now. One day at the grocery store I decided to test-smell dish soaps. When that Palmolive smell hit my nose, I was overwhelmed by a sense of security and appreciation. No dish soap but Palmolive will do for me since that day.
- Petrichor. I don’t know what it is about this special smell when rain falls on dry soil, but it seems like the essence of clean fresh purity. If ever I find anything that really smells like it, I’m buying everything in that particular scent. Except dish soap, of course. See #1.
- Diesel fuel. I do know what makes this particular scent resonate security, safety, warmth, and home. My dad was in the Navy when I was a kid. He was on submarines. That meant he spent three months at a time gone. Not off where we had to call him or send email. Three months completely incommunicado. At the end of that three months, the submarine would came home and trade crews, and dad would come home after work every day (or almost every day) for three months. Diesel fuel, used infrequently but necessary on the submarine, was stored onboard for the whole three months. All those months in cramped quarters, packed with machinery and equipment, meant everything sort of seeped into everything else. When dad came home after those months-long absences, all of his clothes, bedding, etc. were infused with that particular odor. The smell of diesel fuel was the smell of dad coming home to play, to work, to help, to discipline, and to be part of our lives. Who could ask for more?