The Art of Sampling

“An old horse knows the way.” – Chinese proverb

~In the spring and autumn period (770-476BC), Duke Huan of Qi went to attack Guzhu. When winter settled in, the army lost their way, but Huan’s minister Guan Zhong had a great plan: They would release their old horses and follow them back home.~

Experience matters, and that is why I’m relying on the collective wisdom of my online writers’ community, Wordsmith Studio, today. This post will be based on their current creative prompt about samples.

My first thought about samples is my wedding dress. I was not one of those girls who had dreamed about her wedding as a child. If anything, I was unprepared for the amount of planning that was involved for the big event. Thank goodness for helpful friends and loving family!

One huge undertaking was selecting the wedding dress. I flipped through countless numbers of magazines before deciding that I wanted a short-sleeved gown with embroidered flowers on it. I remember going to David’s Bridal (my only experience with a wedding store because of past bridesmaid duties). Nothing spoke to me.

Then, I found a boutique store in San Jose. There was a beautiful dress with silver flowers that I loved–in a sample size. That was a 2-for-1: I got to save money and get the dress that I wanted. Of course, it didn’t fit, but I loved it so much that I bought it. A local seamstress tailored it for me, and here’s how it looked:



My second experience with samples is from my childhood. I remember going through the trial-size perfume bottles that my mom  collected. We would sniff and spray them on. This became a beautiful tradition.

Fragrance is so weighted with meaning. To this day, I have memories tied to certain scents:

  • Fresh grass: playing in the yard with my mini-mower while my dad cut the grass
  • Chlorine: summers spent beating the 100 degree heat by pretending I was a mermaid in our backyard pool
  • Coconut: fresh tropical juice straight from the husk

When I worked with older adults, I realized that scents could bring back memories, even in people who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia. Aromatherapy also offered help and hope for those patients (see this study). Like an old horse knows the way, our noses know certain paths, too.

What scents do you have associations with?






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