Sunday, April 11, 2010

Scent Triggers

This week Julia's third grade class is concluding their social studies unit on culture and immigration. Starting tomorrow they can bring items from their assigned country for their class 'museum' while on Wednesday each child will give an oral presentation on their assigned country and finally they are having an International Food Fest on Friday. Seeing as how Julia is the ONLY immigrant in the class she was allowed to have the country of Guatemala as her subject! Today we started prepping for her presentation.

As Julia sat on the computer 'researching' her facts I dug into the closets and brought out all of our Guatemalan treasures. Both girls were drawn to my bed as I open each bag and drew out the many items we had purchased at the markets in Antigua and Chichicastenango.

One bag contains the most special items of all...the outfits and toys that the girls had with them when they were put in our arms for the first time!!! Mari twisted and turned her teddy bear with it's rattle in the tummy as she bemoaned the unfair nature of the clothing. You see, Mari was almost 3 years old when we were finally made a family and her foster family had dressed her in denim overalls and her shoes were clearly left over from her foster brother Benjamin!!! At only 7 months old, Julia was still a tiny baby and her foster family brought her to the hotel all decked out in a traditional traje with adorable baby sandals.

Now I had always planned to make a shadow box of their little outfits so this seemed like a good time to get started! Pouring salt into the wound I started with Julia's for the simple reason that it could get double duty as a 'museum' item for her project as well as a 'memory' item for our family. As I opened the huipil and prepared to iron it I found a tiny little spot where Julia must have burped up some milk....the memories were almost overwhelming!!! How long has it been since I've had to spot clean the neckline of a baby's shirt??? Then the heat of the iron released a strong smell from the falda...the pungent smell of burnt wood filled my nose. In that instant I was standing back in Guatemala!!!! I could so strongly remember that smell of burning wood as we traveled around the country. All afternoon as I worked on the shadow box I relived those precious days in a country that means so much to this family. As I gaze I the finished product I must agree with the scientist who first noted that the sense of smell is the strongest trigger of memories!

1 comment:

  1. see isnt' it awesome, I lvoe the shadowbox I did for Maya. Yes and in your last post, what is the deal with the head opening being so small, I mean honestly I might be able to still fit Maya in her other huipil but I tell you I can't get them back off. I might have my aunt see if she can add some snaps (or even my mom) although Maya hates it because its scratchy but the next size up I have is really big.
    I remember after visits trips not washing stuff because it smelled like Maya and it was so painful leaving her each time.