This is the second in my series of seven snippets of olfactory memory. An exercise in capturing the day to day places and objects that are connected with scent in some way.
This sewing box belonged to my husband’s grandmother. It was handed down to me after she passed away a few years ago. When I opened the lid and started to explore the contents, a huge rush of memory flooded in from my childhood, sitting beside a similar sewing box at my own grandmother’s house in Portsmouth.
My mother’s mother was a seamstress, a skill she passed down to her daughters and granddaughters. Her house was decorated in greens and browns and beige and peach and grey, with lots of fascinating nooks and crannies to explore. Her sewing boxes and tins were stuffed full of buttons and pins, needles and thread, binding and trimming and elastic and zippers and tailor’s chalk. All of it smelled old and dry. A bit dusty and woody and fibrous. It smelt like an age gone by that seemed far away and faded, yet there were the remnants nestled inside various containers. I would spend rainy afternoons rummaging around, making tiny doll dresses and mandalas out of colourful buttons.
Now, when I need scissors or a piece of thread, all I need to do is open this sewing box and all those afternoons come back to me. The pins might have rusted but the memory is sharp and bright as brass buttons.