The Fragrance of Childhood

May 10, 2010 | 3 comments

A Trug of Lilacs

     Our lilacs are in full bloom right now, their sweet fragrance bringing memories of my grandmother.  I’ve been picking armloads and filling the house with the thoughts they bring.  They invariably remind me of  of the only real advice she ever gave me – or perhaps her only advice I ever actually followed.  She said, “Each woman should have her own scent.  When you are old enough to wear perfume, choose a fragrance you want associated with you for the rest of your life.”  And I did.
     When our roses bloom, my thoughts turn to my dad and then immediately to the time that my neighbor Robert Reading fell into the cactus garden.  He was about six, I probably eight.  We were playing at my house in Alameda, CA in the ‘sunroom,’ so called because its southern wall was all windows looking out toward my dad’s rose garden.  Directly beneath the window, in the least accessible and most protected area of the back yard were a variety of cactus plants which had been there since we moved in.  Leave it to Robert to fall out the window and land right in their thorny midst! 
     I love it that fragrance is so closely connected to memory.  Now that my mental capacities seem to be diminishing with age, I wonder how I can capitalize on that fact.  As in “where did I put my keys?  Oh, yes, maybe if I get a whiff of those tiger lilies, I’ll remember!”


  1. Cheryl Kocher

    We enjoyed your lilacs during our stay with you! And now the smell of lilacs will always bring me back to Oysterville with Sydney and Nyel. Thanks!

  2. Stephanie Frieze

    The air smells so divine this time of year, especially the lilacs. I planted two in my yard in Ilwaco in honor of two sets of aunts & uncles and can’t wait for them to begin to produce.

  3. Lois Sampson

    One of the first things we planted at our house was the lilacs. Dad dug up starts from their trees and we enjoy them every year for the fragrance and the memories of my childhood.


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