Sunday, May 6, 2012

Scenting the Trail to Better Scenes

Do you have a favorite flower?

I have a hard time picking one favorite, but the peony is definitely in my top ten. Their lush blooms, their spicy smell, their faithful, every year blooms are three of the reasons. And another is the memories. My aunt had two peony bushes in her yard when I was a kid. My mom has a picture of me when I was maybe two or three standing by the peony bush wearing a big hat. My two sisters also took pictures by the peony bush that day. I think the peony bushes were the big stars in the photos.

Whatever the reason for my love of the beautiful peony flowers today, one thing for sure the very hint of their spicy odor can transport me back in time. Memories are often brought to mind by odors. Sometimes it's not a particular memory, but just a good feeling. Smelling peonies makes me remember an innocent time when the sun was shining and life was easy. But I also have a tragic memory connected to the peonies when there was a death in my family and the coroner who came to pick up the body drove over the peonies that were in full bloom. There was something so incredibly sad about those crushed flowers.

Those kind of memories, both happy and sad, burrow deep in our minds. As a writer, I have to find a way to pull readers into my stories, to help them feel that sadness or joy, to put in images or sensory touches that the reader can recognize and relate to because he or she has seen or perhaps smelled something the same.

Fragrances awaken memories in our hearts. It's good to remember that while you're writing and take a sniff or two of whatever might be there in the scene you're setting. I don't know that I've ever written the fragrance of a peony into any of my stories, but there are some peonies in the yard down in my Rosey Corner stories. So maybe that fragrance will help me tell a part of the story someday.

I'm sending out a newsletter tomorrow with some fun news. So if you'd like to be on my newsletter list, you can go to my website and send me an e-mail saying you'd like to receive it.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have many pleasant fragrant memories.


  1. Oops, I emailed my comment from the newsletter and I should have been posting it here. . . Sorry! I love peonies too, but my favorite flower of all time is the lowly daisy. They are just such happy little flowers and never fail to make me smile, in fact, they remind me of smiley faces somehow. I enjoy their simple beauty and the fact that they aren't expensive doesn't hurt either! :-)

  2. Sorry, I meant to add a comment about fragrances being tied to memories as well. I find this to be so true, for me food smells especially. Certain foods evoke an immediate memory of childhood, playdooh anyone? Others bring comfort (meatloaf) and some have an unpleasant association (Brussels sprouts). I think it is amazing how God created all of our senses and made them work so beautifully together for our good!

  3. I also love peonies but I think my favorite smell is lilacs. I always loved to drive in the alley behind our house, open the window and smell the lilacs as we drove by.

  4. You are so right about that playdoh, Maureen. Makes me think of Bible School. And how about a just sharpened pencil? So many odors. So many memories. Food wise not much beat the smell of fresh baked bread. Maybe I need to do a blog about that?? Thanks so much for your comments and we are amazing creations in how everything works. Praise the Lord!

  5. Of course, you can know I love lilacs and their beautiful fragrance, Gilda. I used that in my first inspirational novel, The Scent of Lilacs. Wrote a blog about that and the locust blooms not long ago. I have lilac bushes on one side of my house where I have a lot of windows. This year it was like having a huge bouquet all around me when I was in that room. Lovely. Thanks so much for chiming in here.


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