Saturday, October 11, 2014


Even though I am very much a visual person and have a good memory for faces, colours and scenes - I can recall a huge amount of detail from a room I have only been in for two minutes, though I admit it can be quite selective - scent seems to have a more visceral and immediate attachment to memories, a bit like music. A particular holiday when I was fifteen smells of the probably rather sickly kiwi fruit deodorant I was using then. On a recent road trip I ate a cookie from a petrol station, and the bakewell-like alchemy of the sugar and butter in it transported me to my late grandmother's biscuit tin and afternoon teas in her apartment.

There are scents I use so much they are a constant backdrop and therefore rarely connect to specific events in my mind; they are comforting in their familiarity - geranium, rose, jasmine, chamomile essential oils. And then of course I go through phases with particular teas and cosmetics, because I also like change and variety. Sometimes it follows the seasons, albeit not always consciously - I don't give up my spring and summer scent once autumn arrives; it's not suddenly all pumpkin spiced latte in my world, although I do like to mark the change of seasons in a lot of different ways. I just love when it's time for a new soap or when I pick up a tea I haven't had before or try a new recipe; it helps with getting out of a rut in other areas of my life. It's like that new-stationery feeling at the beginning of the academic year, a new start. And later those scents will be a big part of remembering certain occasions and events or simply that phase of my life.

The scenttrack of summer and late summer was made up of gifts mostly: the Cloon Keen Atelier lindenblossom handwash and hand lotion (and there is still enough left to last through the next six months. Also their Spiced Bark scented candle), the lime oolong tea from Le Palais des Th├ęs and a tea tree and lemon soap from the Burren Perfumery (not pictured in the photo of the stack of soaps my sister had got). The illustrations I am working on are steeped and infused (metaphorically, though it's bound to happen that one day I will spill tea on my work) with those smells; I will remember drinking a lot of kuckicha tea in one of the driest Septembers on record, lying in the garden in my bikini (and just yesterday I had an impromptu picnic outside my house with a friend and her toddler); and of course I will remember all the time spent with the person behind some of these gifts, who has been drinking late-night cups of oolong with me and who is teaching me Irish by writing a new phrase on the blackboard in the kitchen every day (see second photo).

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