Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Scents of Home

by Anna Sugden

Yes, The Big Move Phase 1 is over. We are safely settled back in England. The cats are enjoying their new-found freedom; the ability to wander without fear of wild beasts and wild neighbours. We are enjoying having our own home again, with our own garden (free of wild beasts and wild neighbours!)

I was somewhat startled by the presence of a rather suspicious tile in our kitchen - how did that blasted bird get over here and plant his surveillance gear?!

Phase 2 starts today with the arrival of all our wordly goods from NJ. Can't tell you how much I look forward to unpacking a 40ft shipping container's worth of stuff - not! (Amazing how you get used to living without most of your things!) I can't wait to having a proper bed again, though. My aging hips can only take so much of an airbed!

It's amazing how quickly you settle back into your old way of life. As much as I miss New Jersey, I find it comforting that returning home has been so easy. Some days, it feels like we've never been away. On others, it seems like we've been away forever. Certainly, the US has a big place in our hearts.

One thing that has helped us feel like we're home again, is the wonderful array of familiar scents that are uniquely 'home'.

- cut grass
- bonfires on a crisp autumn evening
- the fresh, clean air after it's rained
- Sunday roast being cooked
- Saturday night curry take-away
- frying onions at the local burger van

What scents or smells do you associate with home? Good and bad. When you've been away from home, what do you enjoy coming back to?

59 comments:

flchen1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Anna, I should remind you that we think packing to move is the pits but it's not it's unpacking that is much worse. Hope all goes well and welcome to your home. --- The birds in the yard, love there sound and as for smell it's neither right or wrong, it's just home; it's the right smell. ---- http://wattle.au6.com/images/drive-2.html (and the winters are warm) --- Eric

Natalie Hatch said...

I came back from my trip to Brisbane to awake this morning to the fact that hubby in his vision to be efficient and save electricity turned off the freezer before we left last week... As you can tell the smells around our home are not noice at all. Spent the day sanitizing our freezer and trying desperately to get rid of that lingering smell. The freezer was half full of steak/chicken etc etc. Hubby is very penitent right now.

limecello said...

Scents of home? Hm... food cooking, really. Both my parents cook so growing up I feel like there was always something bubbling or sizzling away - or about to be cooked.
As for packing and unpacking... I hate it passionately. Blech.

Helen said...

Eric you must have gotten the GR seeing as how the first commenter deleted their post.

Great post Anna it must be really nice to be home and in a few days after unpacking that big shipping container you will feel very comfortable and you even have the GR with you permanently lucky you.

I love the smell of a roast cooking brings back lots of fun memories from my childhood big Sunday lunches together and the smell of home cooked apple pie just like Mum used to make.

As for what I look forward to after a trip away from home my own bed and bathroom and getting to choose a book of the TBR pile

The cats look very comfortable Anna enjoy your unpacking

Have Fun
Helen

Marisa O'Neill said...

OH Natalie, what a way to come home from a trip!

Anna glad you made it across the pond safely, NJ will miss you. I don't envy you unpacking. But think of how much fun it will be once you are all settled and HOME again in your favorite chair.

The smells of home differ from season to season. And I couldn't tell you what the distinct smells are but I know my home smells different than Maria's which is a completely different smell than our mother's and totally different from my older sisters. And since these are the homes I spend much time in - especially during holiday and family times I know their 'smells' well. All I can tell you is the nose knows and I know blindfolded which home I'm in.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Anna, I would watch what I was doing in the kitchen if I were you, the GR is really sneaky with those surveillance cams.
I can't tell you guys what my house smells like cos the GR would get really upset, let us just say it is my son's favorite food in any form.
I moved into this house in 2002 and there are still unpacked boxes in my basement. Don't want to scare you Anna so I will say the reason they are unpacked is because there is no place to put the stuff.

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks Eric. You're right about the unpacking!

Anna Sugden said...

Oh Natalie, you have my sympathy! Can recommend Lysol spray.

Anna Sugden said...

Limecello - the smells of home cooking are wonderful. I love going to my mum's house when she's making Persian food.

Anna Sugden said...

Oh yes - congrats Eric on the GR!

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks Helen - I'm sure you're right. The unpacking team are doing a great job, so I think it will go a lot smoother than I was expecting.

The cats have hidden today with all the noise and confusion - apart from my little one, CC - who is currently exploring the rafters in the garage.

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks, Marisa. Hopefully I'll catch up with you and Maria at NJRW again, this year.

I know what you mean about the different homes having different smells. My sister's is very different from mine, and our mother's.

Anna Sugden said...

Dianna - you can imagine my expression when I saw the tile! My cats are keeping a watchful eye on it.

I know - we had boxes unpacked from our move out to NJ, that are being brought back home still unpacked.

Deb Marlowe said...

Good luck with the unpacking, Anna! It's wonderful to come home again, isn't it?

We live in the remnants of a tree farm, and the smell I associate with my adult home is a lovely mix of loam and pine. when we are returning from travel, I get out of the car, breathe that scent and relax.

Caren Crane said...

Eric, congrats on nabbing the Golden Rooster!

Anna, so glad you're home! There is nothing I hate worse than moving. They will have to pry me (and my stuff) out of this house when I'm cold and stiff. *g*

I know just what you mean about the smells of home. I'm originally from Nashville and every time I'm home - especially in autumn (yay, it's autumn!!) - it smells like home. Lots of leaves fallen from deciduous trees, rotting in the damp.

Nashville is a hilly place and there is limestone under every bit of soil. So when it rains, it smells like rocks and dirt. I love that!

When I was little, there was a tannery downtown and it smelled so disgusting in the middle of the night. Unforunately, also one of those "home smells". *g*

Oh, and when I was young, Opryland was still an amusement park and very close to my house. We were there OFTEN. So "amusement park in the rain" is also a scent of home.

Thank you for the reminiscences!

Christie Kelley said...

Anna, congrats on being home again. Right now my house doesn't smell all that great. It's that new carpet smell. My husband walked in last night and asked me if I smelled urine. No, just new carpet.

But with fall arriving today and the AC off, hopefully that stink will be leaving soon. Then I can bake something yummy with lots of cinnamon to add just the right aroma to the house.

Carol said...

Congrats Eric the GR had better watch out for that dog you have there...looks a tougher customer than Louisa's Frodo!!...nice Triangle palm too!

Mainly the fragrance of flowers sends me down memory lane!
Gardinia's for Florida, Daphne for my mum, Pink carnation for my daughter...they were in the hosp after she was born! Lantana for Queensland!

Another one stands out...Popcorn for Atlanta airport!

A link to some info on why we remember stuff with smells...

Olfactory sensing pathways in the brain lead more directly to the hippocampus than visual and auditory ones. That may be why smells can be linked so closely to memory, and may revive forgotten joys, humiliations and other remembrances of things past.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/08/science/08cnd-sleep.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Cheers Carol

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats on the GR, Eric ! And Carol I would NOT underestimate the Frodo! Or the GR for that matter. Eric may find that tough dog cowering under the bed!

Anna, so glad to hear you are home - safe and sound, but I do NOT envy you the chore of unpacking and reorganizing! Nice tile in the kitchen though! VBG

I too love to get home to my own bed. Its old and its lumpy, but the lumps match my lumps! And my bed comes with feline and canine heating systems!

Walking down the path to my house is different depending on the season. When the honeysuckle is in bloom it towers over both sides of the path and the smell is wonderful!

When my Queen Elizabeth climbing rose (lovely shade of pink) is in bloom I can smell its sweetness from the top of the path.

I have five acres and much of it is wooded. Often that smell is the overwhelming smell - deep dark green, pine and red clay.

Of course, when I go to each run to greet the dogs, each with their own scent it is very comforting.

My Mom's house always smells of chicken (sorry GR) and dumplings when I go to visit her because that is what she cooks when she knows I am coming!

Anna Sugden said...

Taking a quick break from supervising the men *g*.

Deb - how lovely. There is nothing like the smell of pine and trees.

Anna Sugden said...

Caren - as I've said before - I'm never, ever, ever moving again. Ever. *g*

I love the sound of the smells of Nashville - can't wait to 2010 to go there.

Where we lived in East Yorkshire, there were tanneries too. And fish docks *ugh*. I didn't mind the smell of Bird's Eye and cooking fish fingers, though.

Joan said...

Hi Anna!

So glad to know you'll be getting your "stuff" back and truly getting settled. The States, btw haven't been the same since you left.

I don't know that my own house has a familiar scent...nothing specific anyway but when there is nothing that says home to me than the scent of Thanksgiving dinner ESP. the stuffing with all its sage and pepper. Yum.

I do know when I get home after a trip there are three things I crave: My own bathtub, my bed and my recliner.

jo robertson said...

So glad you're back home and (nearly) settled in, Anna. Hugs on today's humongous job of unpacking.

It is strange how fast we adjust to being home after being gone a while. I'm always amazed that our first entry into the house seems weird, as if we'd walked into a stranger's home, but then it's minutes until the familiarity takes over.

I love the cooking smells, either a pot roast simmering in the crock-pot or the odor of freshly baked bread. Yum!

flchen1 said...

LOL! That's quite a lovely kitchen, Anna! I guess the GR wants to make it extra welcoming...for him! :)

Hmm... I'm not sure what scents I most associate with home--I think that I don't notice any until we're away for a while, and then the first smell that hits as we open the front door is that slightly musty smell that means we need to open up all the windows! Tonight our house smells like chili though, and that was nice to come home to after we took the kids to the park first.

As for what I love coming home to--our own bed, preferably made up with fresh, clean bedding. Ahhh... bliss!

Congrats on the GR, Eric!

Joan said...

Oh, and Natalie...commesirations on the "unplugged freezer" odor.

That was ripe around Louisville this week prior to trash day...LOTS of freezers without power. I actually feel a twinge of pity for the garbage guys.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna...so glad you're safely arrived home! Not enveying you the unpacking though.

The scents of home. When I was little, we'd travel from Columbus to the Blue Ridge mountains where my parents hometown is located. There was a distinctive earthy smell, especially when the rains came. Mmmmmmmm...to this day I can close my eyes and imagine that scent and poof I'm back on grandma's front porch.

When I travel home to Columbus, the air is more moist than down here in Texas. The scents tend to hang in the air longer there. The pine trees and cut grass are amazing. Then there's my mother's kitchen. Always something baking or roasting!

And if I manage to make it home before they fall off the tree, the scent of apples from Daddy's apple trees mixes with the roses from his garden, (the man has like 30 bushes) while I sit on the back porch and talk with him.

Kirsten said...

Hmm, I'm not sure I have any real smells I associated with home, but lots of sounds and sights.

I did notice when I got home from a lot of traveling at the beginning of the summer that Oregon really does smell like a pine forest, and that made me really happy. I guess when you live here you stop smelling it. It's when you come back from a long absence that you can smell it again.

Anna, what are the big differences you notice between living in the UK and the States?

Anna Sugden said...

Day 1 is over - the men have gone and we have a bed! Jersey Girl has been hiding under it ever since it was reassembled. CC has been supervising the unpacking.

The men were laughing at the nedless boxes of books and the huge number of bookshelves *g*.

All in all, it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be. Helps to have efficient removal men.

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Christie - I know that smell you mean. Ours has that dry smell of boxes and paper at the moment.

Anna Sugden said...

Now you see, Carol, hot buttered popcorn always says movies to me. Going to the cinema in the US especially.

Floral scents are great memory triggers. Having honeysuckle in our garden has been lovely.

Anna Sugden said...

Louisa - can't do without my feline heating pads. Especially when the weather turns damp and chilly. I can't wait to sleep in our sleigh bed tonight.

Anna Sugden said...

Aww thank you, Joanie.

Your Thanksgiving aromas are the same as our Christmas dinner aromas ... yummy.

Anna Sugden said...

I do know what you mean Jo, especially if you've been on a long trip.

One of the things I love about our home now is it has that wonderful 'homey' feel as soon as you walk through the door. It felt right the first time we saw it - which is why we bought it. A lot of that has to do with how light it is too. It always feels cheery.

Anna Sugden said...

Mmm, Fedora - chili sounds great - I'll be right over! LOL.

That GR is such a slacker - could have helped unpack, instead of just watching!

I've also discovered a hen tile in the utility room. Is this his secret love interest?

Anna Sugden said...

Your father's garden sounds lovely, Suz. Apples and roses. Mmm.

There is definitely something about the air after it's rained, about the smell of the earth that distinguishes places.

Anna Sugden said...

The biggest difference is definitely the weather, Kirsten. Even on horrid days, NJ was bright. Here, when it's miserable ... it's grey. And we've had a terrible summer - lots of rain. You may think this is normal, but actually it's never been this bad. I believe this summer was the wettest since records began!

The other things I notice are:
- many more people walking and cycling and taking the bus or train(probably due to the very high cost of gas!). Especially cycling. Cambridge is known for being cyclist-friendly.
- people who walk past you in the street tend to acknowledge you, either with a smile or a 'good morning'.
- our red post boxes are lovely and iconic, but I miss a mailbox. Our letters are delivered through a slot in the front door and you post them at a post box.
- pubs, especially on a sunny day. They're not the centre of village life that they were, but they're still a social place.
- not nearly as many eating out options!

In general, though, there are many, many similarities between the two countries and I think TV and movies have brought many US-isms to the UK and vice versa.

Minna said...

I associate with home the smells of sauna: smell of birch leaves and burining wood and the smells of kitchen: Karelian pasties, pancakes and cinnamon buns.

http://virtual.finland.fi/People/way_of_life.asp

terrio said...

I moved this weekend and I'm still aching in places I didn't know could ache. Not sure when I'll be able to lift my arms over my head again.

Glad to hear you made it across the pond and soon so will your stuff. My grandmother moved over here from London in 1929 and never went back. I wonder now if she ever longed to go. Unfortunately, she never talked about her childhood.

As I grew up in a steel mill town on the Ohio River, the smells of home are not nice ones. The house I grew up in is no longer in the family so there's no going back to that. In my own home, there's almost always the scent of vanilla. Or some candle burning that smells like cake or buttercream or something sweet. So I'm guessing vanilla is the scent that will someday remind my daughter of home.

Claudia Dain said...

So glad the move is behind you, Anna! Best wishes for getting settled quickly, not only with getting it all sorted, but remembering where everything went.

"Isn't this the Tupperware cupboard? Where *did* I decide to put the cereal bowls?"

I don't have any strong memories of home smells that aren't food related.

In Los Angeles it was the smell of the orange trees that crowded our backyard.

In Connecticut it was the scent of gingerbread that my mother would sometimes have coming out of the oven just as I got home from a snowy day at school. I still think the smell of gingerbread is the scent of love!

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Anna! I poked my head out of the cave and saw your lovely post! So glad you're home at last and unpacked. Obviously, you're glad, as well. :-)

Here at the beach, the predominant smells are of the ocean, the salt spray and that smell that comes with the marine layer most mornings. We also have rosemary, jasmine and lavender in the yard and I love those smells, too.

There used to be a bakery at one end of the street and a coffee roasting plant at the other end. Coming home in the afternoon, I could smell sour dough bread baking and fresh coffee roasting. It was heaven!

Donna MacMeans said...

Oh Anna - come back! Come back! I already miss you.

Funny - I read your list of scents of home and it's the same as mine minus the curry. I think Marisa nailed it when she manetioned that favorite smells vary by season and manage to smell unique in different homes.

I'd have to add a lot of food smells to your list - apple pie and pumpkin pie baking being two of my favorites. The scent of fresh cut pine in winter. Brats grilling on a tailgate fire before "the big game." Fresh bread baking - cookies baking - brownies baking...LOL I'm hungry!

Natalie - hugs on the freezer calamity. I'm sure he'll think twice before pulling the plug again!

Congrats Eric on the GR.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Anna! We miss you already! Grins.

Congrats on the GR, Eric! Keep him in line.

Anna, I love smells as a memory trigger. Cinnamon rolls - Mama and Sundays. Ham, same thing. Wet dog usually means lazy days or long hikes in the mist. Apple pie...Pumpkin pie mean autumn. Spicy nutmeggy smells mean Christmas. I still love the smell of my Mama's perfume and my dad's aftershave. I also love the smell of the children - I know, but hey, they're mine, so I can sniff at will. Ha!

There are so many! Bread rising, pine needles, mown hay, turned fields, pigs, cows, horses, all that stuff. Really good memories attached to all of them. :> (Even the pigs.)

Great topic!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Forgot to say that you have my sympathies, Natalie! Yikes. I lost power for 10 days due to a hurricane back when I lived in NC. Nothing quite so nasty as cleaning out the freezer and fridge. Bleeeech. And man, condiments cost a LOT of money if you buy them all at once!

Anna Sugden said...

Ah yes, Minna - saunas have a very distinctive smell. You're definitely enticing me to come to Finland.

Minna said...

The real ones have, anyway. Not the electric saunas.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Eric.

Our home doesn't have a distinct smell. We do use the Glade plug ins, so the house smells differently every month. We did laundry yesterday and the smell of fabric softener was permeating through the house. I love the smell of fresh laundry. My aunt's home always smells of incense. I can always tell if my aunt is visiting because I can smell the incense in her clothes.

Anna Sugden said...

You have my sympathy, Terrio - my body aches too and I had 6 men helping me *g*.

Good luck and much happiness in your new place.

How interesting that your grandmother came from England. I wonder too if she ever thought of her homeland.

Anna Sugden said...

*waving* Hi Claudia!

You'll be glad to know my shoes made it over safely - I brought most of them in my case *g*

LOL about remembering where everything went. Actually it was more like ... one of the men reading the description on the outside of the box and me looking at him blankly!

Anna Sugden said...

Kate! Glad you were able to sneak out of the cave!

I love the smell of the sea. I went to school by the sea and there is still something about it that calls to me. I feel at home when I'm by water.

We have rosemary and lavender in our garden too. And we're planting lilac and cherry for the sprintime.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Donna - miss you too!

There is something very comforting about the smell of food - even curry! It's why estate agents will tell you to pop a loaf in the oven before an open house or why supermarkets waft roasting chicken through their stores.

Anna Sugden said...

ROFL at the animal smells, Jeanne. Having had to suffer all the way home from the garden centre with bags of manure in the back for hubby's veggie garden - I'm not so convinced!

Anna Sugden said...

Jane - I love the smell of fresh laundry too. Many more people dry their washing on the line here, than in NJ. There is nothing like the smell of sun-dried laundry.

Minna said...

Well, we used to have cows, so there are some not so nice smells that bring back memories. Back then those smells didn't seem so bad, because I was so used to them.

Joan said...

I had 6 men helping me *g*.

Oh, well now Anna...that's just being hoggish...

Send a few over to Kentucky. I have leaves...yeah, that's it...leaves that need raking.

Anna Campbell said...

Anna, I must admit I have England envy. I LOVED living in England. I really look forward to visiting you one day soon. Good luck with all your unpacking! Laughed at the rooster tile! Seriously, you were FATED to be a Bandita, my friend!

Just popping in quickly. Got a book due in a week and a bit so I'll be a bit of a fly by nighter for the next little while. A bit like the rooster to next door's henhouse! ;-)

Cassondra said...

Anna, so glad you're back home safe and that your stuff is there, although I'm turning over a new leaf with regard to "stuff" and am about to decide to get rid of most of it. "About to" are the operative words in that sentence, as "stuff" has quite a hold on me and I'm having trouble letting go.

Home, for me, is something cooking inside, and outside, the smell of black walnuts. This is both my childhood home and now, as I have black walnut trees here too (one of the reasons I chose this property). A fire in the firepit is one of mine too, and it used to be the smell of the barn. Barns have a particular smell about them you know? And I don't mean cows necessarily. Just a "barn" smell. I miss that.

Here, I've grown to love the smell of acres of corn, and the particular scents associated with a large grain harvest.

And no matter where I go, the smell of cut hay gets me. Takes me back to a time when life was simpler. Riding on a hay wagon. (sigh).

Cassondra said...

Oh, Natalie!

WHAT was the man thinking, turning off the FREEZER?

OMGoodness, we've lost a freezer twice in my life and it was awful both times.

Scrubbing the sides of the freezer with baking soda helped, but one freezer (we'd been gone for two weeks) we had to just throw away.

Anna Sugden said...

Sorry I've been late responding - unpacking ... unpacking ... unpacking! And my office seems to have become dumping ground central!

Minna - I don't mind the smell of cows, it's the silage I can't stand.

Joanie - trust me, you didn't want any of them. Lovely blokes, brilliant at their jobs, but not up to Demtrius' standards!

The guest room is all ready for you, Anna so feel free to visit any time.

Cassondra - I'm a pack rat. I hate getting rid of stuff. And I'm forcing myself to be ruthless ... well, hubby is forcing me to be ruthless. The charities will do well.

Keira Soleore said...

V.Anna, I'm going to be in Foanna's spare luggage as she stops in Seattle en route to Heathrow. As you know, she can travel for weeks with only carry-on luggage. So nice of her to offer to tote me to your home.

What I meant to write: Congratulations on making a smooth transition home.