As we grow through the various stages of our lives, we develop a memory of aromas. Over time, our experiences accumulate and a familiar fragrance or aroma causes a reaction in our minds, invoking a memory or making us aware of something with which we are acquainted.
Those of us from New England are intimately familiar with the smell of snow, a certain aromatic essence in the air, predicting its imminent arrival. It may be true in other areas of the world but certainly familiar to us here.
Soon, we all hope, we will be able to enjoy the smell of spring. The emerging buds of the trees, early blooming flowers, grass returning to a vibrant growing green, the aroma of a warm sun.
Human beings are visual creatures; we rely on our vision more than any other sense. Those among us that are blind need to rely more on the other senses. Yet, we all have the ability to use them; we often do it without realizing it.
For me, the smell of approaching snow brings mixed feelings. As a native New Englander, I think we suffer if we are too long separated from four seasons, no matter how much we may complain.
I am guilty of fleeing winter more frequently as I have grown older, my tolerance for cold weather diminishing with age. Nevertheless, there is something integrated deep within my psyche that needs a little of each season and the associated smells differentiating them.
The smells of a recent rain, freshly mowed grass, flowers in bloom, the ocean mist, all of these enhancing our experiences here in this world.
Just the hint of any of them, brings forth memories of other days, other storms, other walks in the rain, other moments of rolling in fallen leaves, riding waves, sliding sleds down snow covered hills.
Like most of you, I am ready for the smells of winter to fade away for now. Let the new, yet familiar, aromas of spring take over. I look forward to that first feeling of a warm sun on my face, as I smell the emerging new growth pushing out of the ground.
I know that the pattern will remain; the one I have come to know so well. The rains of spring, followed by the grass and beaches of summer, the changing leaves of fall, and the return of those first hints of snow repeating itself once again.
While we may be tired of the hazy shade of winter, to borrow a line from Paul Simon, ready to move on to spring, keep in mind those aromas of the seasons. I hope we all have any more winters to complain about, many more aromas of approaching storms. Inhale them, savor them, and hold their memories because the winter of our human life marks a real end without the chance of a following spring.