Scents And SmellsThat Are A Comfort To Me
How It Came About
Karanda and I are not mirrored images, but we are often of a like mind. We appreciate many qualities of lives lived out continents away.
Good coffee, love of our Grandmothers, good food specked with spices and keen senses of smell.
Good times, good memories, and comforting smells is the focus of this story.
May she read this in good health, with a good cup of coffee!
She is a gifted writer. I recommend her hubs to you.
This Hub is Dedicated To Karanda
Setting the Scene
As a girl among many brothers, I was expected to, and taught to do the " girl" chores. There is no room for the battle of 'equality of the sexes' here. It was just that way. Laundry was a girl's chore. My teacher was my beloved Grandmother, known as Granny. Go ahead, think Beverly Hillbillies.........that is an accurate likeness. Small, spunky, feisty, headstrong, with a white bun on the top of her head, yep, that is her.
Every Monday morning, Granny would boil wash water in cast iron tubs. You have seen these, they now, decorate many yards as ornamental flower pots. Once they were a valued tool to the farm wife.
She would carry the boiling water, able kids were called upon for assistance, to her prized and envied, wringer washing machine. The machine would wash, multiple loads, until she decided it was time for the first rinse. Water would be drained. Yards and yards of hoses, carrying it to her flower garden, a wasted space to Grandad's thinking.
More water would be carried. A second rinse cycle, standard procedure, called for fresh water. Then the ringing.......the careful placing of clothes through two rotating spinning rods. My Granny had to take care, of the buttons, of the fingers, and even of the breasts........yes, her breasts could be endangered. A well endowed woman of the community did have her breast go through the wringer. As a girl, I was privy to only bits and pieces of the conversations regarding Mrs. Adams. As a grown woman.....it is enough to simply imagine her pain. I expect it was far worse than the mamogram machine!
My Granny, would then pin the clothes onto 'the line', leaving them to blow in the breeze for hours. The term 'solar power' was yet to be uttered. They would be collected, mended, folded, hung and put away accordingly before supper was started. Chores were not to be put off or delayed.
Monday, was a hard day for my Grandmother and her cronies. Looking back, I understand why laundry was done only once a week. Before piped in water, automatic spin and drain cycles, at the push of a button, washing the clothes was hard work . My Grandmother was fortunate to have a wringer washing machine. Monday, was an event, several ladies gathered, and the women socialized as they worked.
I did not yet, appreciate the pride that my Grandmother and her counterparts took in their work. The value and pride, they took in hanging the laundry in neat rows of like kind, placing the clothespins with great care was not net seen by my childish eyes. It would not for many years, too late for me to say, I understand, and I learned.........
The scent of the brewing soap, the ash, the lye, the rendering of the lard......they do linger in the mind.
Sorting The Laundry
My Granny was not one to abuse children. Our assigned chores reflected our abilities, and the trust placed in us. She did not expect a young child to manipulate the wringers, or carry boiling water.
As a youngster, my chore was to assist in sorting the laundry. This was somehow hard for her. There were several men and many boys in our family. She would hold the clothes up, trying to fit the article, by size, to whom it belonged. I had a hard time as a kid, understanding why she struggled with this.
If it smelled like dirt, it was Papa's, the tiller of soil. The scent of grease meant it was Uncle Ralph's. Pine~~sweet, sweet pine.......that shirt belonged to my own Daddy. Gasoline, was my brother, Bill, the auto enthusiast. Hay, that was Gary, a scholar in Alfalfa, Lespedeza, and straw. Sulphur meant it was Kelly's shirt, he had a fascination with matches. The shirt that reeked of diesel, well that one had to be Michaels', he would one day own a repair shop. The hint of tobacco, the shirt was Kevin's. Did the shirt have a light sweet smell, with a hint of smoke, Matt, tended the honey bees. If a shirt had been washed, rinsed, rinsed again and it still stunk........it belonged to Charlie, the real worker of the family. He had a paying job, laying tar.
But I was a child, and I thought as a child. Little did I know that I had a keen awareness. I simply found fault at such an old fashioned Grandmother, who could not sort laundry efficiently. How little I knew.
How very sorry, I am for not appreciating her more.
So Little, Yet, So Much
Our farmhouse was a huge, the inner rooms were large, and it featured two large porches. The small porches of today, if there is one at all, simply do not compare. I did not know that I was poor until I was in high school, and saw how my counterparts lived. Fancy apartments, with swimming pools, cars, dancing lessons, cheer-leading practice......oh how Angela and Sherry lived!
We had tractors, 'billet trucks',( used in the logging industry) a mule.......and all the groceries, excepting sugar, coffee, salt, that we could ever need. My Grandparents set a grand table. No mouth was ever turned away. No time to sit and eat? Take some with you. Take your pick from the garden, the fruit trees, the grape vines. Let's go out to the smoke house and get you a 'little something'. They must have given away tens of thousands of dollars of food, raised by their own hands. Eggs, milk, pork, beef, poultry.......like laundry, going 'to town' for groceries was an event.
None of my high school friends had a car house.
Not a garage, it was not attached to the house. It was not even inside the gate, where the house stood. During the night it was a scary walk to the car house. Luckily, there was little need for me to go.
As a girl, I looked for reasons to go there and be near my Papa. During the winter months, he busied himself there a great deal.
He is there today, in my mind, bent over his grinding wheel, tightening the vice, sharperning a hoe, perhaps he is effortlessly gliding his plane across a piece of wood.....that will become a quilting frame, a porch swing, a dining room chair.
The weather is crisp. Leaves are falling. The crops are in. There is a fire in the stove. I see him. A scent trails through the air. It is a blend of soap, and leather. He is skilled, and intense in his labor. Walking through the door, the fragrance grows stronger. After years of faithful wear, the richness of the leather and my Grandpa have meshed.
To inhale the scent of worn leather work gloves is a return to childhood.
She Makes Me Well Again
Like the women of her day, those before her, and those coming after, my Grandmother was the family caretaker. With her Cherokee background, her personal experiences, and her wits, Granny had a 'cure' for just about everything.
A visit to the Doctor, was reserved for those things she did not know how to combat. Just what were those things..............? It is difficult to recall.
Run your bicycle off of the car house steps, driving the kickstand through your thigh....she could fix that.
Twist the chain on your tire swing until it broke, crashing down on your head, leaving your bleeding skull with gashes......she could handle it. Do you need to see my scalp? I learned to count to 100, twisting that chain, and counting stitches.
Go hunting for berries and find yourself in a patch of poison oak or ivy? Handled at home.
Thought you could ride the bull calf like a horse, and he gorged your foot from top to bottom?
She had a remedy, and available at no extra charge where her stitching skills. It is true, and I have the scar to show you on the top of my right foot. It hurt. Even after the " little taste" offered by a neighbor lady, meant to ease my pain, was painful. It caused my eyes to water and my throat to burn. The women knew how to handle such things, for it did calm me down. Crying was for sissies. There was no other way. There was no 911, no available driver to take you 60 miles to the nearest town. We were not mistreated, our neighbors lived a similar life. The women folk would come running to hold a wailing child still while the remedy was administered.
Feverish, coughing, gasping for your next breath? Earache? Toothache? She had a cure.
Once you heard her instruct a brother to " go flog a chicken, till it pees, and then bring it to me"..........you just might heal yourself rather than face the cure.
I promise.........it happened. It was for an earache.
What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. That is the one thing I never asked her to explain....preferring my own imagination.
Take a frog, and drive a broom straw through it's head.......
Wring the chicken neck, and let it flight around, when it settles..........you do not want to know.
Take an apple peel, lay it under your pillow...
My Grandmother did her best for me, for my brothers, for her family and anyone who came her way. She would stop at nothing to cure you.
If her trusted remedies produced no results, she would call on modern medicine. The one thing she would not do was cut you open! ( it must have been because Granddad refused to keep her knives sharp enough)
In her arsenal,( she was a progressive woman,) was aspirin, Mentholatum and Jergens lotion.
If her know how, and the new fangled ways failed................you were terminal. Get right with your maker. People around her died of old age. She lost no kids in her care.
As a kid, I would get a scolding for drinking out of the dogs water bowl, which was fed from the well. We had 'city' water, in fact, we had 3 water supplies.( 'city', pump house, and rain).....but I would drink there. No one had heard of anemia, and made the connection to iron deficiency. Granny said, 'must be something she needs'.......healing involves trust. Who knew, back then?
Still, today, I rub my chest with a bit of Mentholatum, swallow just a bit, and put a dab on the soles of my feet, to ward off 'chest colds'. Does it work? I don't know, I do it for the smell and the comfort. But I have not been hospitalized for anything other than childbirth.
She knew enough........I am here to tell her story.
Even to those who laugh, as my own children sometimes do.
(I am not anti-medicine. I simply respect old time wisdom.)
My Daughter Makes Coffee
For years, I have been a coffee drinker. From the time that I arise, until I retire, my coffee cup is near.
It has been a long standing joke among my family , that I taught my children, to feed themselves, to toilet themselves and to make Mama a pot of coffee.
Even I, did not realize the impact of this until my hubby's career required us to move to New Mexico.
Living on the NM, Arizona, and Mexico borders were not that difficult to adapt to. Being an outside kind of girl, I adored the constant sunshine. It would take months to appreciate the monsoon, and the depth of dropping temperatures brought on by rain.
I was working in Arizona when the bottom fell out.
The sudden rain brought a measurable temperature drop. I was wet, I was tired. I was cold, yes, cold in the desert. If you can't grasp that, you have not lived in the desert.
The 30 miles seemed like a much longer drive. I vividly recall thinking, 'I hope one of the girls made me a pot of coffee"........but they were young, it was a pipe dream.
The very moment that I opened the door, the smell of coffee engulfed me. I must thank daughter (1) for the towel and her smile.........walking through the living room, the dining room and into the kitchen ( a straight shot through the house), I was greeted by daughter (3), who cheerfully announced,
Mama, I made you some coffee....
Thanks sweet heart.........(.use your imagination, she was proud, and I was thankful.) The praise was generous.
Then, I took a drink............
It was by sheer will that I survived.
There is no intent of cruelty ( and I could not hurt her feelings), but, that coffee was so bad, it would have choked a mule on a puke train ( terrible southern expression ). It was awful. Terrible. Intolerable. The diesels on I-10 could have ran on that stuff! I can not tell you how bad it was.
ONLY a mother could drink this, my own motherly attributes were in question, for I literally choked that single sip down.
She is still very young, so I tell her how much I wanted a cup of coffee. Then I ask her for her
'recipe' for a whole pot. She proudly says, " it's easy Mama, if your pot says 10 cups, then put in 10 scoops "
I could hardly wait until her back was turned and I could make a fresh pot.
Twenty years later, on cold and rainy days, I can inhale that pot of coffee and get a 'fix'.
To her credit, somewhere in the last 20 years, she has learned to brew coffee.
My Husbands Shirt
If you have read many of my hubs, you have probably picked up on the fact that my hubby travels a great deal. While our children were in school, I was often without him for weeks at a time. If this is your first reading.....you know too.
At times it was lonely, but I agreed to that life. Sympathy is not required. This is only for the purpose of sharing.
I always wanted my hubby to feel like he was at home, once he walked through the door again. His things would be as he left them. The same magazine would be opened to the same page as when he layed it on the night stand. His pocket knife or business cards would still be there on the coffee table. I would simply dust or clean around them. His boots would be in the same room, moved only to avoid tripping over them. Any forgotten item would be as he left it. All small items, washers, nuts, coins,......would be waiting for his return. I was unable, to hold back the growing of his children. He would have to deal with that.
I would remove almost nothing, except, the shirt he left hanging over the dining room chair.......a habit that drives me batty. That shirt was honored. It smelled like my hubby.....it would be found in our bed. It lay somewhere between our pillows. In that small space that was the dividing line between his side of the bed and mine, he would find that shirt. The scent of my husband would not be washed away, until he would be safely at home with me again.
Just A Short Walk
It has been a long journey and I am road weary. The traffic has been stressful. The days hot, the nights long. Sleep has been restless.
I have dealt with bad service, when all I wanted was a meal, or to pay for a purchase.
Rudeness is the law of the highway.
There were no quarters to be bought, when my clothes were dirty.
The phone calls have been short and hurried.
It is a long way yet to go.......hours of driving ahead. I am tired. I need rest.
But, I refuse to quit. There is much at stake.
This is an important destination.
Pulling into the driveway, shutting off the engine.....it would be easy to stop here.
I could lay my head on the wheel.
My seat could be reclined.
But not yet.......just a few more steps. I can make it. I have the will.
The door opens.......and I am here.
It has a scent that belongs only to itself. It has a life, that I did not give it.
It is comforting, welcoming, yet, no words describe it.
I will be rebuilt here.
I will be made whole again.
No image captures it.
Others can visit, but this place is mine.
It is my refuge, my sanctuary.
It is where, I am truly myself.
Here, my memories will give life to my dreams.
I breathe in, deeply, very deeply, inhaling the scents of HOME.
What Others Say.......
PaulaK 6 weeks ago
A lovely rendition of times of the past! Your writing takes the reader back in time. Thanks for sharing with us!