Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Effects Of a Simple Drink

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?


  1. First I wanna say.... It's gonna be almost 100 here today. I miss seasons!!!

    And.. I'm going to think on this and see what I can come up with.. I soooo enjoyed you taking us with you through your memories!!

    Can I come help bake and stuff? :)))

  2. Smell is a strong sense and I love the story you have woven about this on particular smell. I think of you whenever I smell hot chocolate, as sitting across a small table from your lovely self at Starbuck's, as we prepared to say goodbye on that Sunday... who could not feel the bittersweet lovelines of being with you, and having that about to end.

    Today is Zack's 17th birthday, and I am filled with so many thoughts and memories. Thank you for the trip back to your childhood and the recollection of stories about you, a subject I never get tired of learning more about. Huge hugs for a wonderful day!

    You hate the cold? It is not an acquired taste, just something one grows accustomed to and learns to make peace with... It is cool here now, but the trees are ablaze in color... and I can't wait to see all that awaits when we leave on our trip on Sunday... As I recall, except for footwear, you dealt with the cold quite well, and it didn't extinguish that curiosity of yours at all...

  3. Mary.. first let me say "show off!!!!!" It's raining here for days now.

    I shall patiently (yeah right!!) wait for your story to come ;-)

    And yes... bake with me and stuff ;-)

    Tom -- Happy birthday to Zack.. wow 17!!!

    yessss.. i remember that Sunday.. my coffee and I sitting across from you and your hot chocolate ;-) And i do recall the cold weather up there and i also recall the snow flakes falling from the sky and calling home to report your crazy next time i visit, there will be better footwear in my .. i love the memories of that visit ;-)

  4. We hardy people just like to show off... and footwear choices or any choices you make, you are always welcome here... And those memories will be with me forever, thank you very much!

  5. I think the email I just sent had like a million typos. :| lol... oopsie... I need more coffee!!

    I swear, I swear I'll come up with something, I just don't have nearly your ability to recall things... cuz, I'm older and have sometimers. lol..

    *whispers to Liane* Did Tom call me hardy? Is that like thick or something? lol

    Goes back and reads, ohhhh... okay, he's not insulting go figure, it's NOT all about me.

    Did I mention I might, just might feel kinda goofy today?

    *nods* I think it is so. :)))) xoxoxoxo

  6. Tom.. LOL>. yes, you are a hardy people.. never will i argue

    Mary.. LOL .. I like your goofy self ;-) and i shall remain patient for that story to come ;-)

  7. Never will you argue that... but you reserve the right to argue about many other things... and that is what makes you so special... such a singular delight, is the depth of your feelings about so many things... And your laugh, that is infectious as well...

    And Mary... never would I insult you. Life is too short. I know that I am a tad irreverent, and always a smart ass, but I hope that I never offend you, or anyone, ever... bows, whisks himself away before trouble ensues... I mean it, I never mean to offend, anyone!

  8. The smell of lipstick, from when I was a small boy and within me was awaking urges I could not understand; yet, still, those older women around me, aunts and grandmothers and friends of theirs, and that waxy soft aroma of lipstick and the stirrings felt to touch what I could not touch, to see what was clothed, to watch the flight of lace to the ground in afternoon light, and still, to this day, that fragrance, of red, mostly.

  9. Hot chocolate is something that 's always in my cupboard, especially in the winter.
    Smell opens up the mind to so many memories.
    I think it's the only sense that you could almost feel and taste without touching.

    Me, it's skating the five miles down the canal and stopping at the booths on the ice for a beaver tail and hot chocolate.
    Oh and hot chocolate tastes better off someone else's lips that's why its good to bring company along

  10. Tree... wow.. the smell of lipstick.. very interesting story to your memory.. thank you so very much for sharing ;-)

    Walker.. nice to see you around again ;-) And thanks for sharing your memory. Forgive my foreign ignorance, but i have to ask.. what's a beaver tail? I assume you don't literally mean the tail of a beaver.. what is it? And i have to agree with you and that hot chocolate tastes better off of someone else's lips... almost everything does though, right?!

  11. Smell triggers more memories the any of our other senses.. When I was a small child, the shopping store Sears was the biggest in our area. They had it so you had to walk through their candy section when entering their store. The first thing you would smell would be their carmel popcorn. And it was so delicious. (They also hooked me on jellybeans) Then as you exit that section, the smell of chocolate was in the air. Twenty years later, my spouse and I went into a new shopping mall. Once we got to the middle of the mall, my feet stop so quick she ran into me. As we stood there laughing my nostrils keep inhaling a scent that trigger the memories of shopping at Sears as a kid with my mother. I followed it and found a store selling carmel popcorn. It wasn't as good as it smelled, but the memory of my now departed mother holding my hand as she whisk me pass all the different candies at Sears, was worth finding the aroma of the past...

  12. 1manview .. wow, what a neat memory to have. I thank you for sharing it. My grandma passed away when i moved to America (15 years ago) and i miss her very much. Filling my home with the smell of fresh baked German cheese cake and apple pie is how i bring her back and make her sit with me at the table for just a little bit... again, thanks for sharing

  13. A beaver tail is a pastry we enjoy here in Canada

    Yes everything does

  14. Walker... that looks like something i'd definitely would eat!!!! I am still a bit hesitant to say that everything would taste good off of someone else's lips.. like liver, for instance... can't tell me that would taste any better!!! ;-)

  15. :-)

    do you travel to europe sometimes ?

    seeing your message on "I don't like my poems", I went on your blog, that looks like getting any sensible man crazy in love. So, hope you've got money and like planes (or swim in cold water for quite a long time, let's meet on the shore !)

  16. Wow, I feel so jealous and deprived after reading all that. I wish I could drum up memories like those, yet as much as I try, all I can rememeber are small memories and nothing to write about. I am glad for you and the bankful of memories that you have, they make me feel good joinging you as you write about them. {hugs}

  17. tis "aimee" from multiply dear gregarious one that you are Liane xxxx
    i'll catch up on all your blogs this eve ...i promise

  18. Ludovic... thanks for coming by ;-) I do travel to Europe some times... Berlin is often the destination ;-) meet you on the shore??? Are you asking me out on a date? lol

    Curt... good morning. Are you feeling better? I bet you have some memories stored back there in your brain that come out every now and again, teased by a certain aroma in the air.. come on.. think!! ;-) share! lol

    Aimee... wow.. sooooo nice to see you over here. Hope all is well in your world!! Can't wait to see more of you now ;-) whoo hoo

  19. Good Morning... nothing new to say here, just me saying hi, offering some hugs and a big mug of hot chocolate... instead of an extra tall latte. I hope that you fine, well and good this day!


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