Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Security to (in) the Feed Department


I know better than to smell a Granny Smith apple in public. 

Seriously. 

To me, they are not just apples, but little green bombs of emotion.  One strong whiff sends sensations of memories careening through the corridors of my brain, connecting me directly to a fall afternoon sitting with my Grandma Bessie at her kitchen table, her paring knife in her one hand, a Granny Smith in the other. 

She cuts the apple down the middle.  With one turn of the knife, she scoops out the core and then hands that half to me.  I breathe in the apple, and see her smiling face, and remember how solid I felt sitting there across from her. 

Whenever I smell a Granny Smith, I remember how much I loved her and how much I miss her and, depending on the day, I can be a mess in about two seconds.  I don’t take any chances in public.  I still buy the apples, but I judge them on sight alone and hold them at arm’s length in the store, waiting until I get home to take one, breathe in its scent and let the emotions come. 

Smells are like that, aren’t they?  They have the ability to connect so immediately to a scene, a feeling, a story.   They are so individualized.  While we all experience this connection, it is rare that we share the same reaction.  To some, the smell of vinegar means a mother’s angry cleaning rampage, to others is means standing beside a favorite aunt at pickling time, to another it smells like pastel colors, like Easter. 

I was out of the country when my father died and so I did not attend his funeral.  I cried when I heard the news, but I don’t think I grieved.  About a year after his passing, I realized I did not have any material item of his and I asked my mother to send me something.  She sent me one of his old hats.  Without thinking, I opened the package when it came and put the hat directly to my nose.  The sensation nearly knocked me to the ground.  That was him.  That was his distinct scent.  It was then I was able to truly grieve.

As a farm kid, I was able to get my driver’s license at that age fourteen.  The law was that I could only use it only for farm errands.  After a few weeks of driving with him, I begged my dad to let me go into town by myself to get some feed.  He said yes. 

Going to town I was too nervous to feel anything, but coming home, I felt more confident.  I rolled down the window, felt that wind, and the wheels beneath me, and smiled at the road ahead.  

The bag of feed bounced gently in the back seat, sending puffs of the scent that would forever connect me to that sunny day and that feeling of freedom. 

A city girl now, I am not around feed very often, but whenever I go to Costco and see bags of feed I have the irresistible urge to throw myself atop them.

Just one deep breath and forty-one years disappear.   

One breath and it’s all there—the car, the wind, the road.  I am fourteen again and feel like I can fly.




22 comments:

Madi and Mom said...

Morning BB
I hope your cold is better.
Oh do I know what you mean about granny smiths.Tonight is our veggie night. We are having stewed granny smiths for supper. One sniff I don't miss from my childhood is my uncle's egg house in the summer.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Shelly said...

Ahhh, loved this. And one of my sweet grandmas was named Bessie Smith. Thank you for bringing her lovely memory to my mind, where it will stay all day.

Cranberry Morning said...

Such a great post! Yes, scents can take us back to a time, a place, a feeling. Sometimes I'll catch a whiff of something and be transported to a little hole-in-the-wall cafe in rural Bolivia. Other times, like you mentioned, the whiff of warm grain can take me to childhood on the farm. When I smell a horse, I'm back with my beloved Shammar, my horse when I was a teen. And with that comes all the emotions of that time as well. Thanks for the memories. :-)

YrHmblHst said...

Oh my...Fantastic post. Again.

Brian said...

Nothing smells better than a memory from the heart!

Daisy said...

Lovely. So true, smells set off memory triggers for me all the time. It is always surprising to me how powerful they are too. Loved this post. :)

Brian Miller said...

i feel you....smell is such a connection to memory...for me it is sot with my grandfather..for my MIL it is cornbread...

Hilary said...

Oh scent is the strongest of memory joggers for sure. And yes, it's amazing how it can take you back to early day so completely. I would love to have something that has my parents' scents. I can distinctly remember each of them in my head.. just not in my nose. Lovely post which brought us all back in some way.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Feed sniffer!
Isn't funny how something so small and irrelevant can bring on memories so strong?

Gina Gao said...

This is such a great post! Smell sends off triggers for me all the time.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

My dad owned and operated a feed grinding business back in the 60's and 70's so I KNOW that smell. These days it makes me sneeze though, but the smell does bring back memories.

annie said...

Hi Betty,
What can I say except, "yup".
Scents, sights, sounds are memory starters for sure.

Ann said...

loved this. I tried to think of a scent that brought back fond memories and I could not for the life of me think of one

Lin said...

I love the smell of the top of my cat's head. She's getting older now and I can see she is slowly fading. Poor cat--I'm always kissing the top of her head and gettin' a good whiff...while I still can. She must think I'm nuts.

Yaya' s Home said...

What a beautiful description of a won'erful memory! An' you have drawn me in with your incredible, lifelike picture of words. Thank you for bringing my gramma' back to me, jus' when I needed her memory the most. It's simply remarkable how clever you are with words. Thank you so much. :)

Pat Tillett said...

Great and moving post Betty! I totally agree with you about smells, sights and sounds.

You know I spend a lot of time in the desert, right? I got my love of it from my Grandma. She was a desert rat of the first order and knew people all over the Mojave. I was lucky enough to spend much of my childhood away from home and with her. She's been gone for decades and when I'm in the desert, the smells, sights and sounds (or lack or sound) totally take me back to when I was there with her. I think you've just inspired a blog post for me.

Tara said...

Oh, it's so true. Smells hold the strongest memories.

YrHmblHst said...

Keep thinking about this...
Scientists say - and I dont know how they figured it out - that our olfactory is the sense tied closest to our memory function. I certainly believe it may be so for me. This post is ironic [to me] as just a few days ago I had a similar sensation involving smells and my own grandmother.
Someone gave us a big chuck roast for Wilson the Malamute. [long story] We prefer eye of the round, but werent about to waste it, so good and loving wife went about preparing the roast with trimmings last Monday. Grandma always made chuck roasts as Grandpa preferred them, and they do smell, as well as taste, different. I stepped out of the shower with the scent wafting towards the back of the house and IMMEDIATELY was transported to Grandma's house on a Saturday evening waiting for Grandpa to get home after closing. And Grandpa has been gone since 1973...

Sister K said...

Noxema, college bathroom, need I say more?

Baby Sister said...

So, so true. It's amazing the memories we hold.

Chicken said...

Feel the same way about our sense of smell. Wild strawberries, Old Spice Patchouli, sage, Turkey, fall leaves, and the curious smell of cider or stored apples that always reminds me of my uncle's back porch. I could go on...thanks. One of my favorite posts.

Out on the prairie said...

I have ran into these smells.I laugh when I walk out and it reminds me of being on the ocean and I am still in Iowa.