They say to write what you know. Write what you feel. So, here are some thoughts from yesterday.
I stepped outside to walk to the Post Office this afternoon, and like a fog, the scents of damp earth and wood smoke surrounded me. Added to the sixty-four degree temperature, it made me think of spring, not the last day of January. It also made me remember springtime at my grandparents’ house.
Memories are funny things. Sometimes, they bring feelings of sadness, especially when you’re remembering a loved-one who has passed away. Other times, memories bring joy. Just like people, memories are different. Yesterday’s memory makes me a little sad and a little happy, too.
Springtime at Mamaw’s. Faint wood smoke lingering in the air from the chilly morning a few hours before, damp earth just waiting for something to be planted in it, the smells of homemade beef stew or Pinto beans cooking on the gas range in the kitchen, the sound of split logs hitting the walls of the wood house as my papaw prepared for the next winter, I remember like it was yesterday.
Knowing I was home, I’d hurry from the car and up the front steps. I’d grab the handle of the screen door and walk right in, knowing I was welcome. The screen door would bang shut behind me, as I made my way toward the kitchen where homey smells of cooking food and Mamaw waited. I’d open the microwave, and sure enough, left over biscuits or cornbread would be arranged on a plate inside. Once, when there was only one biscuit left, my cousin and I fought over it, eventually tearing it in half so we both could get some.
Pulling out a chair, I would sit at the table and sigh. Usually, no one was interested in hearing about a twelve-year-old’s daily account of what her friends and latest crush had or had not said at school, but not Mamaw. She’d listen and give her advice, all the while making me feel like I was the most specialist girl in the whole wide world. And to her, I was, along with my sisters and my cousins. You’d have thought we kids hung the moon or turned in to God’s perfect angels over night. I miss being loved like that.
Sometimes, Mamaw and I would sing together. She was the one who taught me to hear the alto part in a song, and to this day, I can still hear her singing alto when I sing “Amazing Grace”.
Every time I catch a whiff of wood smoke, fresh snow or damp earth, I think about being at my grandparents’ house. I’m there, hearing dogs bark close by, remembering how the sun goes down behind the mountain around six P.M. in the summertime. More than anything, I want to go back home. I want my kids to play in the yard I played in. I want them to peel boiled eggs, just like we did one Easter, and leave their colored egg shells in the yard for me to find, just like Mamaw found our mess. I want to sit on the porch in the morning with a cup of coffee and listen to the song of birds and the occasional whoosh of a passing car. But, time is elusive, and I can never go home again.
These memories are unique to me. No one else can have the exact same memory as I have. But, like an album of pictures, I can pull the memories out and cherish them time and time again. Probably the best thing about my memories is I can share them. Sharing them keeps them alive, and in my memories, Mamaw lives.