Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

There's lots of activity around the homestead: baking, both cookies and bread, shopping trips, present wrapping, and walking dogs through the "snain" (that's a snow rain mix). In the city this morning, it was coming down in big, wet globs of flakes (unfortunately barely visible in the photo. Funny, you looked much bigger in person Mr. Snowflake.) As we left Nina's, I caught a strong wiff of wood smoke that went amazingly well with the snow flakes tumbling down.

Christmas in the City
Christmas in the City
Photo by J. Harrington

In the country, our mostly snow "snain" added wonderful highlights and outlines to the reeds and rushes and heightened the sense of being alive with a fresh, damp smell.

snow-covered marsh
snow-covered marsh
Photo by J. Harrington

But the highlight of the day, so far, was the trip into Penzey's, with all the wonderful spice smells inside. We make a trip each year about this time as part of our Christmas tradition. Now, what I want for Christmas next year is a new and improved smart phone that can capture the aromas of places like Penzey's, or the balsam and fraser fir scents at the tree farm or the alive dampness of the marsh. I don't know if anyone's working on that technology yet, but they should be. Many of our memories are entangled with aromas. It would be great to capture what our memories smell like as well as being able to photograph them.


Photo by J. Harrington

Smoke in Our Hair

By Ofelia Zepeda 
The scent of burning wood holds
the strongest memory.
Mesquite, cedar, piñon, juniper,
all are distinct.
Mesquite is dry desert air and mild winter.
Cedar and piñon are colder places.
Winter air in our hair is pulled away,
and scent of smoke settles in its place.
We walk around the rest of the day
with the aroma resting on our shoulders.
The sweet smell holds the strongest memory.
We stand around the fire.
The sound of the crackle of wood and spark
is ephemeral.
Smoke, like memories, permeates our hair,
our clothing, our layers of skin.
The smoke travels deep
to the seat of memory.
We walk away from the fire;
no matter how far we walk,
we carry this scent with us.
New York City, France, Germany—
we catch the scent of burning wood;
we are brought home.


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