Smells are Histories

by | Sep 1, 2022 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

What smells do you associate with the past or present? What smell takes you back to that place in your mind? Do you agree that “smells are histories?”

This statement reached out to me in an article I read. And it makes sense to me. Of course, the smells can be good or bad. I want to concentrate on the positive memories associated with smells.

When I was ten-years-old, my family moved to England for a few years. One of the first smells that attached to my memory in London was the exhaust odor from buses. I’d never been around diesel buses. I had to ask what it was. Now, when that smell arises, I picture the thrill of a bus ride in London.

Many other aromas are pleasant, flowery ones. Wisteria from my grandmother’s yard. Honeysuckle from a fence in a neighborhood. Gardenia from a church yard. Roses from afternoon walks in England.

I can still conjure up my grandmother’s antique shop when I get around old furniture. Also, I remember a bookshop in York when I’m around old books.


I believe smells do have histories—stories to be told and remembered.

What smells do you cherish?  


  1. Carole Johnson

    You are so right! Smells are powerful and bring back memories—good or bad. The exhaust fumes in London are one of those same memories you have. My first trip there was in 1977 and the buses flash in my mind when I smell them.

    I remember an English countryside walk when I smell wild garlic. It brings back that lovely tree canopy overhead, a soft breeze, and the quiet of the country.

    • Marguerite Gray

      Oh I love it. I’m right there with you!


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