December 3, 2011

I Smell a Memory

Posted by Sylvia Presley at 6:37 AM
Of all the sensory organs, I think the nose is most closely connected to Memory. Say what you will about sounds and sights, a smell is worth a thousand words.

Watch any little kid. Presented with something new , he smells it. Kids smell everything. That's why you remember the bakery you passed on the way to school, the smell of the shoe-repair shop,the seaside.

My Brother and I grew up in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.We lived in a cottage in the woods,free to wander,eating and smelling anything we saw. We scraped pine gum off trees to chew, and found teaberries,huckleberries,wild strawberries, and mayflowers in dry,grassy spots. Stretched out on our bellies, we buried our faces in the small pink blooms, inhaling the sweet scent-a scent no one has even tried to duplicate in cologne. Who would dare ?

My father was away at war for many years, and i felt guilty because I was forgetting his exact look and expression.Oh, we had a picture, but he seemed to be fading from my mind. We lived on the Prairies then, and I was in high school.

One night I sat doing homework and watched as Mother ironed,shifting her weight from one leg to the other. She was ironing my father's shirts! Was she afraid they would get musty packed away too long ?Did she think that if she got them ready, he would return sooner? I didn't ask,but made her a cup of tea and insisted I would finish the few shirts left.

As the iron glided over the shirtfront, my father's face and voice came to as though he were in the room. The heat had released from the fabric the very essence of Father - Pipe Tobacco,after shave,and individual,manly oerspiration. My Mother was staring into space. I suddenly understood the unnecessary ironing. Tears sizzled on the hot iron as I finished the shirt.

The war was gobbling famillies up. Lonesome for the sights and smells of the sea we had known in childhood, my brother joined the Navy.He was 17. I missed him and i know he missed me,but we never said so, lest we break the fragile wall of bravery each had built.

One day a package arrived for me from my brother, assigned to a ship in Nova Scotia. Under the brown wrapping paper was a shoe-box, and under the lid was moss-green,moist and fresh-smelling. I lifted the moss,and found a bed of mayflowers. The fragrance engulfed me. I buried my face in the small pink blooms.

Once again my brother and I were little children,lying in the sun-warmed grass. We watched small crawling things make their way through the blades. Birds and squirrels lightly shook branches in the trees nearcy. The taste of teaberries and wild strawberries mingled with the scent of mayflowers.

There was no note. The mayflowers had spoken.They told me that the world was not all war,worry and sadness,and that I should hold on to the memory of sweeter days.

I still do.(RD)


Anonymous said...

who is the original author of this essay?

Sylvia Presley said...

i got it from Reader's Digest

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