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Thursday, January 06, 2005


One day this week, when I got out of my car at the work parking lot, it smelled like freshly mown alfalfa. A strange and nostalgic smell, because I haven't smelled it since I lived in Kansas. It's a sweet farm smell. It's used as fodder for . . . I don't know. Probably cows, sheep, etc.

It took me a minute to reconcile the smell of alfalfa with the place, in the middle of a neighborhood where most windows are boarded up, men sit out on their porches all day and all night waiting for buyers, shiny Escalades are parked in driveways of houses that cost considerably less than that vehicle, people sleep in crawl spaces of the boarded-up houses because they have no real home, and there aren't any alfalfa fields for miles.

It reminded me of other smell memories from my childhood. The hay that filled the loft of Hannah's barn, where we'd build forts, play with kitties, and try to avoid snakes. The smell of her house, which reeked with the beauty of greenhouses, new construction, and the fruit orchard. My mom pounding on the worn chopping block counter, kneading out dough, which would soon fill the house with the yeasty smell of whole wheat bread baking. (And then the way she'd cut a slice right out of the oven, and it would crumble softly with heat, steam rising.)

Once LeAnn and I took to the milo field that encircled my house, and cut pathways in the rows (whether to create a maze or a fort, I don't remember). I don't know what milo smells like. It's probably more fragrant after harvest than in the field, but to me, the day had a scent. Hot hard wind, girls growing past childhood . . . there's always been a gorgeous despair in thinking about the swift flight of time, and remembering.


Blogger joolz said...

I totally got goosebumps from this. I love how a single smell can take you back somewhere in time. It's so great.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, this is me, Hannah, and that nearly brought me to tears. Down here my life is a lot about alfalfa, again, because people use it to feed their guinea pigs, and its really good for the soil. And didn´t we have a beautiful childhood? I´m glad we´re both smelling alfalfa, even across the continents.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's charity!
I can so picture all this, even though I wasn't really around until we got a bit older, I can still picture it exactly in my mind. I do feel sad, like I wish I was there too....
I always felt so comfortable and welcomed in your peaceful home.

12:27 PM  

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