Today I had a stick of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum for the first time in a long time. I discovered two things. First, if you chew a piece right after you have eaten celery, it tastes a bit like licorice.

The next thing I discovered was how quickly a long forgotten taste can immediately transport you to another place in time. As I chewed my Wrigley’s Spearmint gum, I was no longer in my own van, but in my parents’ station wagon on the way to church. I guess that was the only time we got that flavor of gum.

It made me think of how often a simple scent can make you think of a person, place or event. For example, every time I smell Play Doh, I think of the Lord’s prayer. As a child, we learned the prayer in Sunday School, and that room always smelled like Play Doh. I can almost smell the wood of the tables, too. By the same token, many times when I say the Lord’s prayer, I think of Play Doh. I know – not very religious of me, but it’s true.

The power of scent is an interesting thing to me. Pine equals winter. Brackish water puts me on the bridge to the South Carolina island where we vacation. Burnt popcorn is the office I used to work in. The scent of leather and hay place me in my grandfather’s barn saddling up a horse to ride.

If I could bottle these things, I probably would. But then if I did, I wouldn’t be able to be happily surprised when those scents snuck up on me to brighten my otherwise boring day.