Saturday, April 28, 2012

One Lit Match

One lit match and a flood of memories come back, borne on the smell of sulfur.

My grandparents house.  I lived there for nearly two years.  This is embarassing- lighting a match in the bathroom was considered polite when finished with business.  Why were 7 year old kids trusted with matches in a house?

Perhaps because I was entrusted with burning household trash from age six, and knew what matches could do.

From there I smell sweet hay, leather tack and horses and the pine needles that thatched the roof of our fort.  I smell wild strawberries, bland coffee loaded with sugar and milk, my grandmother's treat to us.  I smell biscuits, buttermilk, raw oats, greens and black-eyed peas.  I smell water cress and trout.  I smell those trout frying in corn meal and bacon grease, next to another cast iron skillet filled with peeled and sliced potatoes, all blended with the tannic aroma of a cherry tree.  I smell the pleasant warmth of my grandfather, a kindly man who always took an interest in us, and always tried to instill in us his love of all things wild.

I smell blood and pain.  I smell fear, fear of spiders in the dark, and fear of bears.  I smell the fears of four small children, left to fend for themselves, looking after each other as their world dissolves.  I smell the terror of being uprooted, the bland acceptance of a new "mom", and the realization that life would never be perfect.  I remember my brother's courage.  I remember my sister being driven away, until she was a memory, someone I used to know.

I remember my grandparents always being there, steady, loving, stolid working-class people who had carved out a spare but comfortable retirement.  It was my grandfather's dream retirement, with two miles of exclusive access to a dream stream.  That land is a golf course now.  I trespass on a regular basis.  I trespass to commune with my grandfather, whose ashes have been placed there, right where the brook trout spawn.  I trespass to remember my grandmother who walked these now green acres, extending her life and happiness through exercise.  I trespass because it was my home.

One lit match.

21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Koz. I've lived it. I'm very attached to what we have here.

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  2. Once again you create a stunning visual image, with sounds and smells to draw the reading into your story. Thanks for sharing you fond memories with us.

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    1. That was a hard one to write, but very real.

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  3. Replies
    1. Oh Erin, if you only knew, but I think you do.

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    2. I do. And that is why I love and admire your courage in writing this piece. I know what it took.

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  4. Replies
    1. Needless to say, I'm very attached to my waters.

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  5. Nice piece Jason. Enjoyed it.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, whoever you are. Much obliged.

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  6. Certain things remind us of those we love in our life. Grandparents always give me good memories. Glad that the lit match gives you that memory of people that meant so much to you in your life. Nice piece, Jason.

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  7. Smell can be the most powerful trigger for fond memories. At times the slightest whiff of something takes me at light speed back to my grandparents home and my childhood. Beautiful post...thanks.

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    1. Yeah, and I can't seem to pick the moments, but this one brought back a flood of memories and emotion.

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  8. I agree that smells can make powerful connections in our minds. The smells I most recall from my grandparent's house are whiskey, beer and the smoke from filterless Camels.

    From their house sounds are the most prominent source of memories. Trying to sleep at night hearing a ballgame on the radio or Lawrence Welk on the TV or the fights that seemed to break out among family members on a regular basis.

    Quite the impressions, now that I think about it.

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    1. I know that studies show that aroma is the most powerful memory trigger for some reason. I don't think they know why. For me it can bring back all those memories- including Lawrence Welk and the fights.

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  9. I miss the sounds of the whippoorwills competing with the wind in the pines. Also, if I haven't yet, remind me to tell you about the night the aliens landed. Love you.

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