My partner treasures memories of visiting his grandmother, whose home smelled delicious. That’s why DF likes to have the scent of cookies baking when his granddaughter comes to visit. He wants her memories to be quite literally as sweet as his.
For the past two days our home has been grandchild-free but has smelled delicious nonetheless. We roasted a small turkey and canned most of it, simmered the bones for stock, cooked down the contents of a boiling bag, made a batch of zucchini cookies* for me to take to the potluck that precedes “The Walking Dead” at a local bar** and baked a ham (much of which DF parceled into bags for the freezer).
I’ve needed both the figurative and literal warmth of such a setting, since the light is going away, the temperature has been in the low teens, and the election season left me exhausted and depressed. Being in a warm, deliciously scented place with a man whom I adore has been an absolute tonic.
The fragrance of our place varies from day to day. It could be slightly yeasty (when I’m making yogurt or DF is making bread), or chlorinated (on Mopping Monday***), or a bit smoky (when we’re getting the fireplace insert going), or sweetly scented by clothes drying on racks. It’s also likely to smell like whatever’s for dinner, with a touch of newsprint (we still subscribe) and secondhand books.
Scent that can’t be commercialized
These are the kinds of aromas that Glade or Yankee Candles can never hope to approximate. Olfactory traces of cleaning, laundering and cooking combine to make the scent of home. It’s the fragrance of love and life, a refuge from the outside world.
For the reasons noted above – plus a couple of issues too personal to discuss – I’ve lately appreciated this refuge all the more. Earlier this evening I wondered aloud whether he and I would have been such a good fit had we met 30 or 40 years ago. Maybe, maybe not.
As he pointed out, there might have been that “sense of impatience, or self-righteousness” often experienced in one’s youth. Or, he added, “the failure to appreciate the beauty of simple things.”
Things like starting seeds for the greenhouse, taking a walk during a long summer twilight, or watching his granddaughter pick raspberries in our yard. We have special events as well, such as live theater or the Anchorage Symphony, and those are wonderful.
But so is a quiet evening of side-by-side reading, in a house that smells like fresh bread and air-dried sheets. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty in the everyday.
*Basically these are cinnamon- and clove-scented sugar cookies whose butter and sugar content not only mask the presence of shredded squash but also negate any nutritional value associated with such.
**Our local cable carrier ditched the AMC channel. Linda B. and I now hit a neighborhood bar that has satellite television and promotes a friendly atmosphere for zombie fans. The cookies were a big hit, probably because I didn’t mention the zucchini.
***Like my mother, DF loves the smell of Clorox in the morning. Or any time, really.