I have 10 nieces and nephews, ranging in age from 12 years to 2 months, so I knew this before, as everyone does and mentions a million times a day, all over the world.
But now that I have a 14-month-old toddling around my house (who is, at the moment, emptying my purse onto the floor and exploring every compartment, object, and zipper), I know this personally, viscerally, completely.
The truth is, babies grow SO fast.
Yeah, I knew that. Everyone knows that. But then I see a picture like this one, taken just a year ago, and I'm halted in my tracks.
This photo captures my every sense. I'm stunned at the sight of her tiny fist next to my grandpa's thumb—how his massive welder's hands cradle her little pajama-clad body.
I look at this picture, and I am instantly enveloped (as Keira must have been) in that familiar, musky scent that always clings to grandpa's plaid cowboy shirts: a combination of Old Spice, horses, and that sandpaper-like soap he keeps in his downstairs bathroom. He smells like love and comfort and dependability.
At the same time, I'm drinking in the fresh newness of Keira, all slathered in baby lotion, with her whisper-soft cotton clothes carrying traces of Dreft baby detergent. She smells like hope and miracles and the future.
I want to live in this picture, basking in the light from the window that is filtered through the branches of my mom's Christmas tree, newly in love with my new baby daughter, remembering the hours I spent cocooned on grandpa's lap when I was little.
This is nostalgia. This is the power of a photo.
Find a photo that causes an emotional response in you and write about what you see or hear or smell as you imagine yourself inside that photo. Describing what something smells like is not an easy thing to do, and almost whatever you write will feel inadequate to you, but it is a wonderful exercise for helping you connect very deeply to a memory. Try it! And share it on your blog, in your journal, or on a scrapbook page.
Note: as you try to describe what something or someone smells like, you are bound to discover the woeful lack of adequate synonyms for the word "smell." After checking my favorite online Thesaurus, I even Googled the phrase "other words for smell" and came across a new-to-me website, the "Super Thesaurus," that clearly does NOT know what a verb is. Here's a screen capture: