Monday, July 7, 2008


Painting by Michael Bingham

Once in a while, there is a sweet smell that wafts in so softly, I'm not sure if it is real or a memory. The smell of lavender comes out of nowhere. I will be reading in my chair by the window or lying in bed, after the lights are out, and there it is. I am sure there is an explanation for this, but I don't know what it is. It triggers a very distant memory of bright white, clean sheets hanging in the Sun on a clothesline. I think it is my Aunt's clean linens I am remembering. Although I can no longer see the face clearly, I still remember scraps of things, from that time spent with an Aunt. I stayed with her during the Summer, because she lived in the country and I loved it. I think of her, when I smell lavender.

The smell of brown sugar reminds me of Saturday mornings and my Mama's homemade caramel rolls. Since Mama worked hard all week as a spinner in a cotton mill, this was the only time we got to spend with her. We were allowed to have coffee to go with our rolls, if we put more milk than coffee in the cup. The smell of that brown sugar and hot, buttery smell, was more than I could bear. I loved her homemade rolls.

Billy says there was a large, red clay, pit down from where our home is now, when he was a child. After it rains, you can sometimes smell the clay...That triggers a memory for me. We used to play on a large red clay, hill, when I was growing up....That hill is huge in my memory but it probably wasn't all that big. We took large cardboard boxes and flattened them out and slid down that hill on our stomachs, rather like those lucky enough to have snow will do with their sleds. Our cardboard sleds were great to us. We didn't know about snow,,,being born in Mississippi...but we knew that a red clay hill was shiny and slick from all the years of kids sliding down it. After a rain, we had to wait for the Sun to bake it again, but in the South, that happens quickly. We would play on that hill all Summer.

The smell of Old Spice shaving lotion, always reminds me of an Uncle. We called him Uncle Dude. I think he got that name because he raised horses and trained them. He would put me up on a horses back once the horse got used to the blanket and lead me around in the fenced in area where he trained his horses. Mama would have killed him if she had known about it. He said I was so light, the horse hardly knew I was there and it got them use to having a rider. I don't know about that, I just thought it was fun. I can smell that Old Spice today, every time I am around horses.

Certain smells brings back pictures as clear as photographs of scenes. Like the smell of cedar brings back my Grandmother's cedar chest to my mind. They have left the conscious mind but they are not forgotten. As long as we have our memories, people and places live on. Maybe we never forget anything. There is no proof that we forget. Maybe it is all still there just waiting for a smell, a taste or sound, to bring it all back.


JeanMac said...

Terrific post - it brought so many memories back to me - esp. the smell of clothes, fresh from the line.Freshly baked bread reminds me of my grandma.
thanks for checking in on the blog - I can see there will be lots of reading on your 3! I'm an avid gardener and square footer,also,so I'll learn lots there:)

smilnsigh said...

Thank you for this lovely piece of writing. So true, too. So true...

Smilnsigh blog

Zaf_Jam said...

Absolutely beautiful. Your lovely piece of writing, bought back great memories of childhood, and I thank you.