They say your sense of smell is the most powerful memory trigger.
Most of the time for me it’s the smell of someone’s perfume or cologne that will instantly make me think of someone. Even someone I haven’t thought of in ages. Like the other day when I walked past a whiff of Polo and was instantly transported back to a ’79 Datsun 280Z for awhile.
Sometimes it’s the smell of a place. Like your grandparents’ house or your first grade classroom. School cafeterias and hospitals. The inside of a brand new car.
This past weekend I was on a retreat at Lake Texoma and I smelled it the minute the van pulled up to the dock. That fishy smell of the lake, mixed with algae and seaweed, and every now and then a hint of gasoline and oil from the boat motors.
That’s all it took to bring back the summer we nearly froze to death camping at Johnson Creek when it turned freakishly cold in the middle of July. It was too cold to get in the water. It was too cold to step outside of the tent. So during the day my cousins and I played in the tent. And at night, all eight of us – the kids and the grown ups – slept in the tent.
It wasn’t a big tent.
Finally the boys and I got so bored that the grown ups felt sorry for us and my dad and my aunt took us fishing in the boat. We scrounged up every extra article of clothing we could find and then our mothers wrapped us in beach towels and life jackets, crammed a variety of hats on our heads and sent us off to catch fish.
I caught a fish, so I was happy. Come to think of it, we all did.
And Joe was just happy that he got to go. Being the youngest, that was rare.
This weekend I didn’t catch any fish. But I released a lot.