Smells of Home

For Gina’s prompt at dVerse:  Comfort smells of childhood.

Smells of Home
“As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly; you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life–and travel–leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks–on your body or on your heart–are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” Anthony Bourdain

Ivory soap – pure white and floating.
My mother scrubbing me clean and later
Mme scrubbing myself clean.
My father shaving off bits with his pocket knife
and putting into a bowl of water to melt
and then blowing soap bubbles.

Fresh laundry – the smell of sun
and later starch, ironed and fresh.
Diving onto the bed and rolling from one side
to the other – reveling in the clean crisp scent.

My grandmother’s lipstick and face powder,
my father’s Old Spice,
my mother’s clean fresh smell
as she came in from the outside.

Smells of cooking fresh green beans,
frying chicken, freshly baked bread,
freshly squeezed lemon juice into the
pitcher of sweet tea,
the fresh coconut cake, the scent
of tomatoes fresh from the vine.

Cedar and pine for Christmas,
oranges and cloves.
Carnations spicy and rich for Valentine’s day
and magnolias in a crystal punch bowl,
roses and honeysuckle and newly mown grass
In the summer.

Smells of childhood take me back to happy times.
Smells to remind me the dead are always with us.

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Oct 02, 2018 @ 16:22:05

    I really love all those scents, and some of them are memories to me as well… and yes there is always a note of melancholy in the perfume


  2. Beverly Crawford
    Oct 02, 2018 @ 16:51:51

    Truly those loved ones now gone are enfolded in a scent that bring them back to us in a pleasant unexpected way. It is a gift!


  3. Glenn Buttkus
    Oct 02, 2018 @ 17:10:48

    What a lovely poetic basket of smells; we overlapped with the baked bread. Good on you for having the baking skills to do it your self. As a kid, we never had store bought bread; silly me at school I would trade my homemade bread sandwiches for anything on Wonder Bread. Now I would give anything for one slice of Mom’s bread.


  4. Grace
    Oct 02, 2018 @ 18:54:27

    I love your childhood smells, so comforting and filled with freshness and love. Smells do bring back the happy memories of the past. (I never did know how to make fresh coconut cake). Yes, I believe that they are always around.


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 03, 2018 @ 00:24:28

      Fresh coconut cake is so easy. Buy a coconut, punch out one of the eyes and drain the liquid into a bowl. Crack the coconut and put in the oven for 15 minutes then pull the coconut from the shell. Grate Put into a pot and add coconut water and more coconut water if you need it. Add sugar and bring coconut to a boild and cook for about 15 minutes. Bake a yellow cake and put into three cake pans. Let cool. Put some coconut and jice over one later, repeat with the second and last layer. My grandmother made this three times a year and it was always supreme. She actually used two coconuts to ensure there was plenty. You can make a 7 minute icing and put some between the layers layering with the coconut. I prefer the way my grandmother did. It was fall aprat juicy and and luscious. Sometimes she would grate some orange zets into the coconut. So very special and good.


  5. V.J. Knutson
    Oct 02, 2018 @ 19:56:36

    So many memories wrapped up in these smells. Nicely done.


  6. Ron.
    Oct 02, 2018 @ 20:59:14

    Many experts say that olfactory is the strongest sense, memory-wise. Great write, this one.


  7. kim881
    Oct 03, 2018 @ 02:02:36

    I enjoyed those smells of home, Toni,. some of which we share. It seems that home smells are quite similar wherever we are. The ivory soap brought back memories of my mother and I blowing soap bubbles through our hands, and the lipstick and powder gave me a thrill – I loved those smells on my mum. I’m amazed that you also captured your ‘mother’s clean fresh smell / as she came in from the outside’ – I remember that too!.And my nan used to bake coconut cake. Wonderful memories to start the day, Toni, thank you!


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 03, 2018 @ 02:07:10

      Thank you Kim! Those home smells seem to transcend an ocean, don’t they? I can remember my grandmother, Ninny as I called her, every sunday sitting in the back seat of the car, pulling out her tube of lipstick and powder to finish her last minute primping for church. She would always take her little finger and run it over her lips to smooth out the lipstick rather than blotting it. I remember it was Avon’s Poppy Madness she wore. Thank you for sharing these homey smells!


  8. Jade M. Wong
    Oct 03, 2018 @ 15:00:56

    Oof, your last two lines. So true and so painful. I loved how you chose to portray your entire family through different smells associated with each person and then you brought everything together at the end with Christmas and family dinners. It was beautiful.


  9. purplepeninportland
    Oct 03, 2018 @ 20:58:18

    You brought my childhood back in a swish! Mom always used Ivory soap, and Dad always wore Allspice.


  10. lynn__
    Oct 04, 2018 @ 08:39:37

    “Magnolias in a crystal punch bowl” stood out for me, Toni…beautifully scented memories here!

    Perhaps you can even eliminate some of the “fresh”…i can smell it without the repetition but that’s just my opinion 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 04, 2018 @ 09:56:59

      Thank you. I was beginning to worry about the fresh…but then I reasoned that the green beans were fresh and not frozen, the coconut was fresh and not that horrid canned sweetened stuff, and on and on. I will look at the freshes and find suitable adjectives. Thank you for the honest read Lynn. I like this sort if comment!

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  11. Frank Hubeny
    Oct 04, 2018 @ 17:23:38

    You made me realize there are many scents I now remember that I was hardly aware of at the time, but they stayed with me nonetheless.


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