Friday, August 5, 2011

Tomatoes and cukes and other sorts of things

I don't have many memories of my early years in Oregon, just snatches here and there. But certain smells bring me back. Tomato plants smell like summer to me, and transport me to running barefoot around the farm and playing hide and seek in the corn...walking with a brother to feed the pigs and watching in amazement as he swings the bucket over in a arc without spilling a drop. When our little plants started growing, I pulled Aidan and Chloe over so they could sniff the vines with me. "It smells like my childhood," I told their obedient, but confused, faces. Sometimes a certain plant brings me memories that my heart knows, but my mind doesn't have pictures for. Rectangular hay bales all arranged in rows across a field bring me memories of hay forts and swinging legs off the back of a pickup while older brothers heaved bales into the bed. A friend gave me bunches of garlic just pulled out of the dirt, and I was nearly giddy with excitement. Sherry Lou is to blame for that as many memories are swirled into the images and smells of braided garlic and onions hanging in rows from the ceiling in her kitchen. Fresh cucumbers are an incredibly happy scent and there is nothing bought in the store that can compare with that taste. I remember my mom canning oodles of pickles and the steamy way the kitchen felt in the already hot summer. But there were jars and jars to show for her effort. Dill was my favorite and sweet was my sister's. Laura Ingalls is certainly in part to blame for my romanticism. With a steady diet of Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and some Pollyanna and Annie mixed in for good measure, there is not really much hope for me to have my feet firmly grounded in reality. Lots of things tend to have a little halo of sunshine mixed in. While the truth might be that it is considerably easier (and more cost effective) for me to buy butter and jam; I was inordinately pleased to serve my family a breakfast of homemade scones made with my buttermilk, currants picked off the bush, and topped with freshly made butter and raspberry jam. Although I'm not sure that my family entirely soaked in moment properly, Laura Ingalls would have been proud, and Anne would have been in rhapsody... And maybe some day, the smell of scones will take my kids back to a small, cozy kitchen and a quirky momma who delighted in the small things.

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