Monday, September 24, 2007

Smells like rain

I wish I could say that literally. All is smells like right now is "burnt". But I've been smelling a lot of things around here lately, for one reason or another.

I am the "expert smeller" in the family. Even when I was a vegan, Friend Husband would come up to me with a bag of some sort of meat or dairy product or whatever and say, "Does this smell good to you?" Generally, the smell of meat made me gag and I would say, "No," at which point, crestfallen, Friend Husband would make to throw said item out. Then I'd say, "It smells nasty, like all meat does, but it's ok to eat." He was not amused but he put up with me because he needed a sniffer.

I can walk into my house and know what's been going on. I know what's been cooking, what the twins have gotten into, and whether the heat or a/c are on. I have been called upon on more occasions than I can count to smell a child's breath to see if s/he has consumed something verboten. The last time was on Sunday when David managed to douse himself in fuel mixture (oil and gasoline for the tiller) but Friend Husband wasn't sure if he'd tried to drink any of it. "Smell his breath," I said. "I can't smell anything for all the gas on his clothes," saith he. So I cautiously poked my nose into David's open mouth and determined that he hadn't had any fuel in it, then bathed him because I couldn't stand even the faint scent of gas that clung to him after his clothes were changed.

Smells are so evocative. I love the smell of garlic sauteeing in olive oil. My mom used to say that, if she were blindfolded and left on the corner, she could find her way to my house because of the garlic wafting from it (this is a problem?) I also love the smell of new babies...so fresh and sweet. Newly baked bread is also a major treat that makes my mouth water. Sarah sometimes smells just like my mother did. I used to think that it was Mom's perfume that I smelled but it must have been some body chemical thing because Sarah has the same thing. She knows when I follow her around, sniffing like a hound dog, that I've caught a whiff of Mom again.

The girls don't believe that I can smell things when I can. I never knew what my grandmother meant when she said, "It smells like rain," until I got to be "old" and could smell rain too. When we had our first shower in months a couple of weeks ago, we were in the basement and almost missed it. The windows, however, were open and, while we were all gathered round the computer looking at something, I jumped up and said, "Oh, it's raining!" The girls just laughed at me. After all, it hadn't rained in months. But the sound of driving rain made them look again out the window and I got the last laugh. Never doubt Mama's sniffer!

There are also scents that bring back negative memories. I haven't used pine-scented cleaning products since the first year we were married. We used a great deal of Pine-Sol to clean up puppy accidents and to me, Pine-Sol just smells like urine. I realized today, as I used Lysol to try to mask the nasty smell of rotten peppers (not to be recommended, although rotten potatoes are the supreme worst), that Lysol now smells like bm accidents to me, because the girls sprayed so much of it when the twins would have them. No more Lysol for me.

This evening I was making our standard quicky meal of baked tilapia, veggies, and garlic rice. Garlic rice is something wonderful that Friend Gail told me about. It's cooked rice into which butter and garlic (and salt and pepper) are added. Yum-city! To save time, I popped the butter in with the water when I set up the rice maker, and went about my merry way. When it rang to let me know it was finished, I opened the lid and took a sniff. One whiff of that buttery rice took me way back to when I was a little girl.

My mother, brother, and I lived with my maternal grandparents for years after my parents divorced. Mamaw and Papaw were the children of Swedish immigrants and, although they assimilated to a great extent, there were still things that her mama made that my Mamaw thought were just keen. One of these was rice with milk, butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Knowing now how I feel about cinnamon, I'm not so surprised that I didn't like this so much. Mamaw enjoyed it and would make it for supper and everyone but me would dig in but I couldn't stand the stuff. In fact, I couldn't really see the point of rice at all until Friend Husband converted me after our marriage to the ways of the rice cooker and vast cauldrons of stuff served over hot rice. But I digress. When I was little, it was rice with all that sweet stuff on it and that was that.

When I smelled that sweet cream butter over top of my rice tonight, I felt like I'd been lifted and put back into that old house on Arcadia Ave., with Mamaw standing over the stove cooking supper. The memory made me so wistful. How I miss my grandparents and my mom! And it just takes a whiff of something, be it buttered rice, or my oldest daughter's naturally beautiful scent to bring it all back.

2 comments:

Julie@Shanan Trail said...

I have been able to smell rain since I was a little girl. I turned 5 in Ankara, Turkey and I was given the absolute gaudiest rain jacket ever fashioned by anyone. It was white with huge blue daisies that had red centers. I loved it. I was so excited the day I smelled rain, I put on my treasured coat of many colors and stood out on our back porch until I got wet (or stayed dry!)

My mom cleaned with Ammonia so I do too. I know some people don't think that Ammonia smells very good, but to me... it is what clean smells like.

Last, I absolutely love leftover white rice with milk, butter and cinnamon and sugar. I hope we can still be bloggy friends! :o)

mom huebert said...

I know exactly what you mean when you say your daughter smells like your mother. Hubby has a unique aroma when I get close that I really like. And when I go to give DrummerDude a goodnight hug, he smells just like Hubby! I love to give him hugs.

By the way, I can smell rain too. Isn't it a great smell? I used to wonder about those nature shows where the animals would come from miles away because they could smell a water hole. I guess it's not that odd, after all.