Spring on the farm brings new life and one of the first signs of that among others is the bright fragrant lilac blooms. We have a row of lilac bushes (part of a windbreak- where trees and shrubs are planted to block snow and wind, protecting the farm yard) that tower about 10 feet high and line the dirt road that goes to a cow pasture. When in full bloom, they form a tunnel of sweet fragrance and the boys and I always take in some big whiffs as we drive past aboard the 4 wheeler.
The science of scent has sought to uncover why we connect so powerfully to it or why it brings up memories of long ago. Brain anatomy is likely the answer, where incoming scents are first processed by the olfactory bulb. This region has direct connects and association with the two brain areas that play a key role in emotion and memory, the amygdala and hippocampus. None of our other senses pass this way so it seems that our anatomy has primed us for our sense of scent to trigger emotion and memory more than any other.
Spring is making way for summer and this past weekend of hot weather faded the vivid purple blooms and so faded that characteristic floral fragrance. Where once had been the towering shrubs of cheery blooms and a wall of comforting, memory-triggering odor now stands untidy shrubs whose job is purely utilitarian…block the wind. I had prepared myself for the reality of their departure. I had preserved some of the blooms in a infused oil and had gathered inspiration to make some soaps that would keep that scent alive just a little longer.
Everything has its season and the farm brings that more to reality than any other location. While the scent of lilacs is fading, the blooms of the peonies are readying, waiting to open and release their own fragrance. Peonies are one of my favorites and I had chosen our wedding date to coincide with the peony bloom. There just might be a peony inspired soap in the works.
Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes