Posted tagged ‘charcoal’

“Childhood smells of perfume and brownies.”

April 15, 2012

Today is beautiful with no breeze and the brightest sun hanging in the sky. Fern is so relaxed lying in the sun shining through the front door that I had to check to make sure she was breathing. Gracie is outside sitting in the sun. She has a favorite spot on the back side of the yard where she sprawls on the grass. When she comes in to check on me, her fur will feel hot to the touch.

Yesterday I heard dogs barking, including my own, mowers and kids playing but not today. My neighborhood is Sunday quiet as if there was reverence still left for the day.

I have favorite smells. The every day favorite smells give me a sense of comfort and continuity like the smell of coffee brewing first thing in the morning or the smell of the ocean borne this far by the wind or the fog. Other smells transport me to different times and places. Last week I smelled leaves burning and saw a man tending his small fire, rake in hand. I slowed down and lowered my window when I went by him and his leaves. All of a sudden I was a little kid again watching my father tend to his fire burning on the street beside the sidewalk. The smell of wood burning brings me back to Ghana. During the harmattan, when the mornings are chilly, the family compound behind my house had smoke whirling into the air from fires lit to keep everyone warm. The smell of that burning wood was almost sweet as it filled the air. Food in Ghana is still cooked on small, round charcoal burners, and the charcoal is still made from wood. Last summer when I smelled the cooking fires I was transported forty years in time to when I lived in a small white duplex and behind my house was a field with a family compound. I can still see and smell the smoke from that compound as it rises into the air. My mother and the smell of sugar cookies baking are forever linked in my memory.


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