Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Great Equalizer

I would venture to say that out of all things small that can affect our lives, the common cold is the greatest equalizer. Anyone who gets a cold deals with the red, runny nose, the coughing that disrupts things, the body aches that make you hunch in on yourself...all of it. Even the most beautiful, put-together people look like...well, crap, when they have a cold.

This was never more clear to me than yesterday. I've been dealing with a cold for the last few days, so I'm a little the worse for wear, to say the least. Yesterday was one of those days where you can only breathe from one nostril, but the one that's stopped up, that won't sniff or blow, is the one that runs. I don't know how "normal" people deal with this, but my solution (at home, anyway) is to put a piece of toilet paper up my nose. I know that's not the prettiest picture in the world, but it is what it is and serves its purpose well. Yesterday was a day of toilet paper up the nose. And it didn't bother anyone; Jessie looked at me kind of funny, but I told her it helped me keep my nose from running, so it evidently made sense to her.

But then...the cable guy showed up. He knocked on our door to tell me that they were going to bury the cable they'd rerun several months ago (FINALLY), and got the unspeakably beautiful sight of me: rumpled, red watery eyes, and red peeling nose complete with toilet paper "plug". I tried to be inconspicuous and act like I was rubbing my nose in order to remove the toilet paper, but the damage was done. My secret was out.

Maybe the next time he gets a cold, he'll take a cue from me, and stop his nose from running MY way. Who knows?

Monday, February 27, 2012

I've Always Been a Smelly Person

No, not in the sense you're thinking, wink wink...

Okay, we’re all aware that scents can trigger some of our strongest memories, right? Most times, it’s a good scent triggering a good memory, and a bad smell triggering a bad memory.Well, I was thinking about this the other day, and thinking of the smells that reminded me of home. I came up with some good ones. The smell of chicken frying and angel biscuits in the oven will always remind me of Granny’s house. And fresh-cut grass reminds me of life before my parents divorced, when I’d be in my room at our first house, windows open, the scent of the grass pouring in while my parents were mowing.

And then I started thinking about…cow poop. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. My Grandpa raises beef cattle, and the smell of grass-fed cattle leavings reminds me of being on their farm, walking out to the end of the ridge to look over the cliff at the farms and houses on the other side, and the beautiful view, especially in the spring.

Thinking about my Dad’s parents and their farm led me to thinking about my Mom’s parents, my Mammaw and Pappaw. We lived with them after my parents divorced, and the smell that reminds me of them is…wait for it…smoke. Two kinds: cigarette smoke and wood smoke. They both smoked, so everything in the house smelled like smoke, all the time. I didn’t even realize how much like smoke I smelled until I went to college and could smell the difference. Then in the fall & winter, we fired up the wood stove. I can’t even tell you how many times I had to plug up the crack under my door and open my window because Pappaw had stoked the fire up so much it had gotten to 80 degrees inside. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, there would always be several people standing out on the porch, cooling off.

Some of these smells are ones I can experience down here in Georgia. I get all at once nostalgic and disgusted when I am behind someone in traffic and smell the smoke coming into my vents from their car. I will admit to inhaling deeply, wanting to remember. I know it’s not the prettiest (or healthiest!) picture in the world, but I do it! Plus, we don’t get to smell wood smoke much down here, because it rarely gets cold enough for that. Even the fresh-cut grass smell is different here because of how dry it stays. I have to grab my memories when and where they’re available.

What scents bring back memories for you? And are your memories fleeting ones, like a passing memory of a place or time? Or are there some scents that make you as deeply nostalgic as mine, putting you back into a specific spot, making you wish you could relive that moment in your life just one more time? I know I’d give anything to smell the smoke and feel the heat of the wood stove at Pappaw’s again, because that would mean he was there in the house, throwing wood on the fire, ready to tease me about something or even just ask me how I was doing. At least I have lots of good memories to “come home to”! Here's a picture of him...his birthday would've been this month, on the 15th; were he alive this year, he would've turned 94. My Pappaw, Jesse Willard Back (who my daughter, Jessie, is named after)...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Missing My Home

Yesterday was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day here in Georgia. The humidity was low, and it was breezy and in the mid 70s. We were driving down the road in the late afternoon with the windows down and the music up, and it was just perfect.

It reminded me SO much of Kentucky in the late Spring that I started to get very, very homesick. The more I thought about it, the more I missed my home. At one point the longing got so powerful, it was like a physical presence on my shoulder, whispering old memories in my ear, nearly making me weep.

Yes, Georgia is my home for now, but Kentucky will always be my home. It’s where I was born, where I lived for 32 years. I love where we live and wouldn’t change it for many different reasons, but Kentucky will remain the place I long to be.