Window Shopping by Scent
Back in the days when I was very young and living in Washington, finances were tight and a spare dollar was carefully set aside to cover tuition and transportation costs. At times, even bus fare was a bit iffy, so I'd walk the mile or so from the house to work and back. Ah, the joys of being younger...
If I cut over from Corbin Park to the east before heading south, I'd experience a veritable bouquet of scents along Division as I headed for work. Dozens of different shops both large and tiny, restaurants which beckoned with enticing aromas, the pungent crackly leathery odor of a shoe repair shop, the acrid slap near a gas station as its tanks were being filled. A bakery, its thick windows glistening bright in the morning sun and its fresh-baked scents twisting up the street to greet me. A city bus would pass by with a belch of diesel and a small cloud of white-gray smoke, but the bakery would fight back and win with cinnamon-laden sugary strength.
Once I reached downtown, the truly joyful window shopping would commence. Block after block of massive brick buildings awaited, each with its own inset array of spectacular display windows, colored from the subtle shades of autumn to the brilliant offerings of spring and summer, each beckoning onward toward the next. Stout glass revolving doors set into marble fronts, with each turn puffing out the scent of fine apparel, elegant perfumes and whiffs of promise. The clear tang of the air to the north now laden with the aroma of commerce and, even in the brisk winter mornings, the scent of luxury would waft from within the Bon Marche as its doors gracefully opened and closed.
Some say that scents bring back memories more strongly than any other sense we possess. I believe this is true. Once in a great while, I will catch the barest hint of maple sugar and be instantly transported back to the block on Division Street near the bakery with the bright shining morning windows, and smile to myself in fond recollection.