zinniaThe other day at work I was cropping an image of a “pretend” penicillin bottle, and I swear I could smell that sweet, sticky medicine from my childhood. I found it amazing that a direct interaction with one of my senses (sight) could trigger a smell that I haven’t smelled in years.

Some people have constant triggers between scents and memories or sights and memories. All of life’s experiences are triggers, are they not?  There are negative triggers, too, but we’re not talking about them this fine Saturday morning. I mean the odd things that flash back when you least expect it.

I have a handful, too, but only a few trigger a stop-in-your-tracks kind of reaction. Whenever I walk into Menards the scent of lumber sends me back to the days when my dad took me to his construction sites.  Jergens lotion doesn’t nearly smell as rich and unique as it did when I was a teenager. Now and then, when an airplane passes overhead, I get a real nostalgic jerk back to being a little kid, swinging on my swing set, watching them following their flight paths.  A whiff of reconstituted dried onions makes me think of dad bringing home a bag of White Castle burgers, a real treat as a kid. And the weird scent of zinnias make me think of my mom’s garden. Hearing polkas (especially on Saturday mornings on some non-descript Wisconsin radio station) reminds me of my dad listening to them as he worked in his garage workshop.

Do you have flashbacks triggered from sights or sounds or smells? Pleasant, momentary dips into good feelings or childhood memories? I’d love to hear them. Maybe they’ll trigger memories for me, too.

Like the icky smell of penicillin.

2 thoughts on “Flashbacks

  1. A train whistle will always take me back to when I was very young. I would awake in the early morning and hear the sound of the train whistle in Williams Bay. A little later and much louder the whistle for Como. Then, finally very faint, Lake Geneva. It always makes me feel safe and warm when the memory crosses my mind.


  2. Songs can immediately transport me back in time and place–back to when my kids were toddlers (if there was a song they liked and always wanted to hear), back to my training days, back to my days as a young girl doing jigsaw puzzles. Scents do it, too, but I don’t encounter them as often as I do the song reminders–thanks to satellite radio and the constant rehashing of oldies. 😉


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