Monday, September 30, 2019

Smell of pies and noodles

My sister June sent a picture of a woman feeding sheep. Of course, she sent it knowing how much I loved our lambs. The picture resides in an old frame that is a lovely setting for the scene. Reminders of the farm. And, most of all, the smell of the sheep and the shed.

Memory is a wonderful thing. It comes with scent and with vision. Recall of my grandpa's octagonal barn immediately makes me think of the dust and straw in the mow. Stories of my grandmother falling through the floor of the mow into the herd of cattle mingling below come to mind. Her fall was always thought to be the beginnings of her cancer. A sadness hangs in that barn for me.

When I walked into that barn back the lane, I was assailed by the memories of kids flying across the barn on the swing, kittens hidden behind the bales and cattle milling below. A smell of hay, straw and cattle is alive the same as it was when we lived there. I am once more a child swinging on the swing Dad made and the one playing pirates with neighbor kids.

A place. A smell. A memory. Last week we were at the ocean for three days. Most of it was spent walking the Pacific beach or just watching the waves rise and fall. I was mesmerized. Memories captured me and pulled me to and fro with each wave. Dad was the first to introduce me to the ocean. How could I not call that to mind? The sound of the waves at night reminded me of that nighttime introduction that terrified me with the thunder of the waves and a body of water that was dark and endless. The ocean held an ocean full of moments with family, of children exploring, of sand between my toes. I looked at it wondering if the only thing my grandchildren would know is a barren span of water full of plastic. A place where our planet cried for what it lost.

I talk often of memories. We are memories in the making. What will be the things our families remember? What opportunities are there that we ignore by just the task of living day to day. My son James often talks of the smell of the house on Neff Road. It was the smell of pies in the oven, the fire in the fireplace and that of his grandparents. Dad always smelled of the field, of hay. Mom always smelled like pies and noodles. I probably smell like plant soil and topical pain relievers.

Perhaps our house smells of Play Doh and evergreen. Maybe the sight of a musical instrument or a painting will pull memories of our home and of us. Our senses are so attached to our memories that we cannot deny what they hold for us. Mine seem to always bring on a smile and a warm place in my heart. How about yours?

Monday, September 23, 2019

Favorite time of the year

Smell it? Huh? Breathe it in! It is the smell of fall. Everything around us knows the time of year. Animals are beginning that winter coat that sheds all over the place in the spring. Plants are struggling to open their last blooms while some others are enjoying the brisk feel of season. Yep, my favorite season. No, wait, I think I said that in the spring. Hm. Well, anyway, fall is here.

What is it that brings memories back in the fall? It is indeed a reflective time. Not just for the older generation. Nolan remembers the donkey at the pumpkin patch, and, of course, the cider donuts. Emma recalls Halloween costumes and the fun fall brings. My memories always pop back to the farm. The mulberry and maple trees covered the lawn with leaves. Even after all these years, I remember tossing them into the air and running through them. Fall on the farm was a wonderful time.

We spent a bit more time in the basement during fall. It was when Dad started building fires in the fireplace. It was when the church youth group showed up for hot dogs and potato salad. Neighbors were gearing down from a time of combining in the fields and canning the summer bounty. They had time to stop in for a morning of visiting. We dressed a bit warmer to walk to the bus. And, Brenda and I turned our attention from playing in the corncrib to playing with our paper dolls and doll babies.

Fall is a time of remembering. Yes, sometimes the darker days and rain remind us of those we love and have lost. I lost my dad and two uncles on September 17. I sent my kids to school in the fall, hence, my summer fun with them came to a halt. They would grow up more during their winter experiences at school and our play days would change. Somehow fall seemed to be more about endings than beginnings which spring held aplenty. Often the rain reflected the tears in my heart.

Fall is here with all of its color. The air is crisp and clear. We sit in our living room watching the seasons change outside our windows. Fall. My favorite time of the year.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Home is a feeling

What is home? The first home would have been around a fire or in a cave. Some people have many homes in their lives. It is a lovely noun, but so much more.

I was asked this week if I call Ohio or Oregon home. Now that is a tricky one. Home for me has always been Ohio, yet my house here in Oregon is my home. What is the difference? One is where I was born and raised. One is this place I reside. Each is equally important to me and each are my homes. This has become more home to me since my family is here and since I have lived most of my life here. Yet my heartstrings yearn for that Ohio home.

Recently, I read a piece stating that the home you were raised in is no longer home once all the loved ones are gone. It is only a place full of stuff. What made this a 'home' were the people who lived there together.

I did some research and came across this piece from The Smithsonian Magazine: "...our physical habitat is shaped by what you might call the magnetic property of home." I like that. It is magnetic.

Home is also people. A magnetism to that place where you took root and those people who take you right back to Neff Road where memories lie on the edge of conversations. Those that take us home again and again. Ah, yes, friends and family and home.

I do have to admit that I was a little concerned wondering what I was going to do with two women from back 'home' who were coming to Portland. They were not people I knew. In fact, I was taking Janet Rhoades' positive referral on these two. And, yes, she was completely right. For the last few days, we have been experiencing home. Jane Brown and Donna Stickley are pure delight. I'm not sure there was a moment when we needed to get acquainted. We shared home. In just a few days, we three have become best of friends, laughing and enjoying the company, and the sightseeing. Home. Not a building. Not a house back a lane. No, it has been in the joy of Jane and Donna in our lives.

Home is not a place....it is a feeling - Unknown