Monday, June 21, 2010

30 Days of Smell

Day 3: Murphy’s Oil Soap

It was Saturday morning and we were intent about our goal of cleaning the house. For years, our weekly Saturday rhythm has included a couple of hours of home hygiene. In fact, I find myself consoled by this ritual. I know that if the house begins to lose its luster and clutter starts to pile up, on Saturday, I will tackle it and restored it to a place of order and sanctity.

As I was wiping down the counters, I sprayed some Murphy’s Oil Soap and began to mop it up. The familiar smell lingered in the air as it drifted down onto the counter tops. I noticed how much I liked the fragrance—a mix of woody, piney, clean scents—yet, more subtle and natural than strong detergents. The aroma lingered long after I’d coiffed the counters and furniture, leaving behind an invisible olfactory witness of a clean house.

I enjoy the act of caring for my home. The visible, measurable, noticeable work of cleaning is satisfying. I rub down counters and furniture, remove sticky dribbles and dust and I immediately see a difference. A shine re-appears; a clean fragrance loiters; and I feel satisfied knowing that I’ve nurtured the environment in which my family and I live.

A couple of weeks ago, right before our son and daughter-in-law moved in to a new house, we went over to help them clean. Right away, Laura handed me a bottle of Murphy’s Oil Soap. She said that when she and Brandt were at the store buying cleaning supplies, he opened a bottle and smelled it. He remembered that this is what we used when we cleaned our home growing up.

I was amused and encouraged that he would remember the scent and that it was a positive association. Smells are often one of the strongest memory makers. Evidently, for our family, the fragrance of Murphy’s Oil Soap is an aromatic icon of hearth and home—one that conjures recollections of weekly cleaning rituals and the place we inhabit together.

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