Thursday, January 12, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

You know it's time for a facial wax when you glance in the rearview mirror and wonder for just a second why, when you aren't driving a red ferrari, Magnum P.I. is behind the wheel of your car. Brow/upper lip maintenance needed. Yuck head cold equals sleepless nights equals dark shadows that don't at all look like the "smoky eye" I'm trying to pull off. I just look tired and sick. But even when Mom is down, life goes on.

The boy, who has turned 11 this week, has decided that he doesn't want the annual birthday party EVENT (okay it's hotdogs, chips, fruit, cake and ice cream and lots of running around staging sword fights boy mayhem). Instead he would like a trip to Savannah to visit the toy store. At the ripe old age of 11, he has never been to a store that exclusively sells toys. But can I just say that I'm a bit lost not preparing for the usual party festivities? It was also my opportunity for grown up conversation with my favorite fellow moms of children of a like age and now I have to wait at least another month before one of our favorite families invites us to their child's party before I can indulge in mom chat.

I like to think I'm coping well with the fact that my oldest child is becoming a tweenager and that my youngest is seven going on seventeen. I confess that while I've had to let go of the smocked dresses with bloomers, the Thomas the Tank Engine trains have been packed away and Dora yogurt is no longer on my grocery list, there is one thing I've struggled to leave behind. Those sweet little baby washcloths are still in the basket next to their tub. They've been washed so many times they aren't much more substantial than tissue paper, but I still can't bring myself to throw them out. I've rationalized that they are the perfect size for getting behind small ears and between toes, but I know I'm in denial. As long as those worn little scraps sit in that basket, my babies they will be.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


A little boy who was in Abby's class suffered a severe brain injury last month. He is on the road to recovery. One of the therapies they are using with him is to introduce familiar smells to stimulate brain activity. Smell is closely tied to memory. Few things can stimulate recall like familiar scents.

Several weeks ago I attended a parent-teacher conference at school. The smell of chicken and hot dish soap instantly conjured images of orange lunch trays, cardboard milk cartons and lunch ladies garbed in plastic aprons, gloves and hairnets. I can see myself standing in line, waiting for tired women to slap a spoonful of chicken and dumplings, overcooked green beans, a brilliant orange yam and a slice of peanut butter cake on my tray. It seems like no matter what is being prepared in the lunchroom, it always smells like chicken to me!

A whiff of honeysuckle in late May and I am riding my bike, barefoot, around the block... drawn by the sweet smell to stop, pick a few flowers and collect the drops of "honey" clinging to the ends of the stems. I can feel the warm breeze, hear the whine of mosquitos and taste the dewy sweetness as clearly as if I had climbed into a time machine and whisked back through the decades to a spring day in 1985.

The scent of Irish Spring soap reminds of baths in the claw-footed tub at Grandmother Hall's. The gleam of sunlight through homemade curtains, the feel of the bristles of a nail brush under my nails, the creak of floorboards as Grandmother brought in a fresh towel and a bottle of Jergen's lotion for after the bath.

Chimney smoke wafts by and I can see my dad adding another piece of wood to the wood burning heater while my mother sits so close to the warmth she is almost IN the fireplace, reading a book. A patchwork blanket wrapped over her and her glasses perched either on her nose or on top of her head. The squeaks of the rocking chair as she rocks and reads. Oblivious to anything outside the pages of that book. The warmth, the noises, the images are so vivid they are almost touchable. As clear as a photograph.

So perhaps nostalgia is all in the nose?

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