by Fran Hendrick
When memories of sounds and sights and scents are blended together, a space can magically be imbued with the sense of coming home. What’s so exciting about creating your own space is that you’re endowed with the power to bring only the best, the most choice of those memories together in a brand new way. You design a completely new fashion that is custom-tailored to you.
It’s a funny thing, the elements that can cause one to suddenly feel at home. Some of my best times as a child were spent with my grandmother and my aunt and uncle’s family in Manitowoc, Wisconsin on the shore of Lake Michigan. To this day, the sound of tires on a gravel road makes me feel that I am driving up the long driveway to the house on the bluff overlooking the lake, a place where there might be squabbles, but there would be no fighting, no intense sadness, none of the sense of imminent doom that I felt so often apart from those weeks in the summer. The sound of a gravel road instantly blesses me with a sense of well-being.
Many nights, returning to my grandmother’s house on the country roads that lead through this small town, there would be the scent of a skunk floating on the air. To me, this is perfume (though only in small doses, I later learned); how delightful to find it here, a little outside the city where I now live. Likewise, I was surprised, when I moved here, how the slight bit of mildew in one of the doorways summoned up those summers when the lake breeze always left things just a bit damp.
Not that I’m seeking to directly recreate either of those in my home beyond faintly, distantly. But my associations to what might be, to other people, unpleasant sensory elements are contented ones.
The last time I visited Manitowoc, I was dismayed with an advance in technology that had replaced the hollow echo of a far-off fog horn with an electronic phony twin. No matter — in my own home, I have a little lighthouse that reminds me of the sound exactly as it used to be. Just the sight of it brings the reassuring sound of that old sentinel to mind and I am transported to the psychological space of summer freedom, wide open spaces, the sun, building sand castles beside the icy lake, full picnic baskets that included home-grown tomatoes and my grandmother’s deviled eggs, quadruple solitaire and laughter.
Creating A Space That’s You: Find a moment to write down five sounds and scents from your own happy memories and imagine the ways you could weave them into your space to welcome you to each new day.