Transformative Power of the Senses

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on April 12, 2013 in Anecdote, Family, Nature, Travel |

I’m always amazed at how a  small detail—a sight glimpsed out of the corner of my eye; the whiff of an familiar, but forgotten, smell; a tickle of sound in my ear—can transform me to a different place. And not always a physical place, sometimes a place in time.

Honeysuckle, with its far-reaching sweet scent and sticky nectar, brings me back to early summer during my childhood. When there was always a tree to climb or a brook to explore or a patch of asphalt to skin my knees on. When the sun stayed up late and my parents allowed me to play outside until a late bedtime.

The album Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos transports me to a white mini-van packed to the gills with my family and our luggage. Cruising down the highway toward Florida, scenery rushing by as we drove south to Florida. My siblings and I singing “The Name Game” song: “Chuck, Chuck, bo-buck, banana-fana fo-“. My sisters and I cutting off and then cracking up when my brother—the youngest, who was only three—shouted out the swearword.


The view in Connecticut.

Today as The Boy and I walked to the beach, a puff of white in the space between two houses made me suck in a surprised breath as my mind traveled 6,300 miles to the island of Moorea in French Polynesia. Once we arrived at the beach, I stopped for a better look. Puff up those clouds a little more, change the gray waters of Long Island Sound to a see-through turquoise, substitute Long Island for an island in the South Pacific, and turn the rest of the slightly overcast sky to a pale blue…and I was in paradise.


The view in Moorea, French Polynesia.

Okay, I realize looking at the two pictures, the views aren’t even close to each other, but something about that quick glance set the gears in my mind turning and brought me to another place. Both sights are beautiful in their own ways, don’t you think?

What senses bring you to a memory?

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