Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Good afternoon to all my Net porch visitors. I wish you could come and sit on my real front porch with me and have a glass of iced tea and talk a spell. Because this is impossible, I welcome you to my "imaginary" front porch and maybe you have some iced tea at your house to enjoy. I hope so.
Last night as Roy and I were leaving the nursing home after getting daddy to bed, we walked under a magnolia tree with several, lovely, sweet smelling blooms on it. They smelled so good and instantly a memory came to me which was triggered by the sweet smell. I began to think about how smells or aromas bring back events, people or food to our minds. It is amazing how our mind work isn't it?
The magnolia blossoms reminded me of my college graduation from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, MS. At this time it was an all female college for the last graduation for they integrated with the male population the next year. Now this was done after a court order and we didn't go down without a fight.
The lovely tradition was for the women of the junior class to make a long, chain from magnolia blossoms for the senior women to carry across the front lawn while they sang the song written for this occasion. We carried it to a small, outdoor amphitheater, made a circle, carefully placed the chain on the ground and sat down for a brief speech about our future. Then after we sang the Alma mater you raced to the circle of flowers and if you were lucky enough to get a bloom, you would be married soon. You should have seen those single women hike up those graduation robes and run to those flowers. It was almost a riot, but remember these are Southern ladies and you had to fight nicely. This is one of those skills we have in our genes.
However, since I was 40 years old, married, with 2 children, I left the blossom grabbing to the young, single girls. You see I went back college late in life and completed my degree, but I was not going to let any of the traditions pass me by. I wasn't the only older lady in the group and it was and is a lovely tradition. The warm, May air would be filled with the sweet aroma of the beautiful magnolia blossoms and a good tradition in which to participate.
I seldom smell vanilla flavoring without thinking of tea cakes and pound cakes. Our Granddaddy Bert Williamson most always had freshly baked tea cakes waiting for us when we would make the long trip from Camden, AL to Bunker Hill, MS. When we would finally get to their home and piled out of the car, we would run up the steps, across the porch and jump in Granddaddy's arms and the house usually smelled of vanilla and tea cakes. They would be so good and as far as I know tea cakes and coffee were his only 2 cooking skills.
When Grandmother Mae hugged us, she would smell like Argo starch. She would have on a clean, starched apron over her dress and it would smell so clean and starchy. It was a comforting smell for she was a comforting person. Putting on a clean, starched apron was always done before greeting guests, even if it was family. Dirty aprons were not 'fitten for company and she was most proper but with a great, big laugh that made you want to smile and laugh with her.
I was peeling peaches a little while ago and that smell is always pleasant. The memories it brings back are the peach trees we had at home and picking, peeling and making peach preserves, peach pickles, canned peaches and frozen peaches. We would pick them off the trees, peel them with our fingers, bite into them while they were fresh and have juice running all down our hands and arms. We would be a sticky, sweet smelling mess but they were oh so good. I think peaches would make a great perfume, don't you?
One smell from childhood is quite interesting for when I smell banana shrub flowers I think of the cemetery by the Camden Baptist Church. This is the church that we attended all our growing up years and I mean attended! Remember I told you that if the doors even cracked, the Polk family was in attendance unless dead or dying. Sickness didn't always count unless it was contagious.
On summer, Sunday nights we always went to Baptist Training Union at 6:00. The town's cemetery was just across the little street from the side of the church and when we would get out of training union, we would stroll over and look at the graves before we went in for church. There were several, great big Banana shrubs there and in the summer they would be covered with little, creamy colored flowers which smelled like ripe bananas. We would pick a handful, wrap them in a Kleenex or handkerchief and take them into the service with us. We would crush them and the smell would waft over the whole congregation. My little brother, Arvin, said they always made him hungry for bananas, but most anything made him hungry.
One of my mother's memories was always triggered by the smell of gardenias and it also was associated with the cemetery. The church she grew up in was Bunker Hill Baptist church in Bunker Hill, MS. The cemetery was across the road from the front of the church and most of our relatives who have passed on have been buried there for many generations. It has lots of gardenia bushes and mama said every time she smelled gardenias, she thought of that cemetery. Needless to say, I don't remember us having a gardenia bush in our yard.
These are just a few thoughts about smell and our memories and we all have hundreds. Some are good memories, some sad or funny and some bad ones. Our minds are amazing creations and I thank the Lord that so far mine is pretty good. Sometimes I wish I had a delete button like a computer so I could send some stuff to the Trash. Because I can't, maybe losing some of our memory isn't too bad except I sure wish we could select what we forget, don't you?
The Georgia Peach
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