Thursday, October 15, 2009
Ah, yes…it is getting colder… out comes the scarf, the gloves, the jacket which makes us feel oh so cozy while the cold air is touching our skin. It’s a time of different smells. The air has a crisp clean smell; the dirt has a distinctive fragrance; and the bouquet of different evergreens is carried to our noses by the harsher winds. In my household, this is the time of lots of home baked cakes and hot chocolate (made with real milk!!!) This is how I grew up, and this is how my children will recall a little bit of their childhood through the aroma of hot chocolate.
How one specific smell can trigger all kinds of memories. For me, the smell of hot chocolate triggers memories of going to the little hill across the street where we lived, which was covered in ice and snow with my sled every day, sledding until the entire body was numb and a voice in the distance is calling my sister and me home. Wet clothes stripped off in front of the entrance door, those numb hands put on the radiator (in severe cases, we’d be hopping under the flow of hot water in the shower), feeling the pain of defrosting until my mom would have a cup of hot chocolate ready for us; made the old fashion way, not in a microwave.
The aroma makes me recall a birthday of mine which was not celebrated with my mom, but with my favorite uncle, his fiancé and my sister. We made a birthday cake together, my very first birthday cake. I remember the birthday card he gave me after the table was set, the cake placed in the middle and the candle blown out. It was a card with the picture of Gonzo. Remember the Muppet's? Yes, to this day, Gonzo remains my favorite character. The day ended with a new game, also with the Muppet's theme. It was a super birthday back then. What I can’t recall though, is, how old I turned; I want to say seven or so; strange why I don’t recall that ;-)
The smell of hot chocolate reminds me of the numerous times I’ve traveled as a kid with a huge group of kids to other cities in Germany for three weeks or so; each year in the summer before our family vacation. Every morning around breakfast time, the aroma of hot chocolate would fill the hallways of our youth hostels and I can still hear the kids’ voices and laughter in the distance of my memories. I recall the winter fires and Easter fires on those trips. I recall the first time I experience an electric shock, when touching the charged wired fence. I remember how good it felt when our room was awarded for cleanliness (you know us Germans and our tick for cleanliness!!). I remember how my sister hit her head really hard on concrete for doing something silly. And I, to this day, can feel how it felt to say good bye each and every time before stepping on the bus that would bring us back home to Berlin.
The smell of hot chocolate reminds me of the times when I was in the hospital. It was time to depart from my dear friend, the appendix. Every morning, I was woken up by the nurse with a cup of hot chocolate. This smell triggers the memory of a certain nun who took care of me after Jenny’s birth. My body decided to invite bacteria (because I am just that nice of a person), this nun would enter my room in the very early morning hour for two weeks to give me an injection to prevent thrombosis. I could have sworn that she must not have liked me very much by the way she jammed those short needles into my legs without moving a muscle in her face. Hours later, she’d enter the room again to open the curtains and bring me a hot cup of chocolate. Mixed feelings is what I received with that, really. And when I finally, after three weeks in the hospital, was allowed to leave, on Christmas eve, I went up to her and hugged her and I could swear I saw a smile on her face, however short this may have lasted.
For as much as I hate the cold, wintertime sure has some wonderful memories for me, all underlined by a nice cup of hot chocolate. And as I grow older with my own children, the aroma of hot cocoa puts a new smile on my face as I listen to my children asking for this wonderful elixir as the temperatures outside are changing and I am sure that the smell manifests itself into their brain with their own collection of memories.
Oh come on…tell me you don’t have some special memories connected to a certain fragrance in the air. Tell me that, when a certain smell reaches your nose, it doesn’t trigger a moment of closing your eyes, and falling into a nice and comfy place, indulged by wonderful memories… Share your story, won’t you?
Posted by Liane at 8:20 AM