My sister June sent a picture of a woman feeding sheep. Of course, she sent it knowing how much I loved our lambs. The picture resides in an old frame that is a lovely setting for the scene. Reminders of the farm. And, most of all, the smell of the sheep and the shed.
Memory is a wonderful thing. It comes with scent and with vision. Recall of my grandpa’s octagonal barn immediately makes me think of the dust and straw in the mow. Stories of my grandmother falling through the floor of the mow into the herd of cattle mingling below come to mind. Her fall was always thought to be the beginnings of her cancer. A sadness hangs in that barn for me.
When I walked into that barn back the lane, I was assailed by the memories of kids flying across the barn on the swing, kittens hidden behind the bales and cattle milling below. A smell of hay, straw and cattle is alive the same as it was when we lived there. I am once more a child swinging on the swing Dad made and the one playing pirates with neighbor kids.
A place. A smell. A memory. Last week we were at the ocean for three days. Most of it was spent walking the Pacific beach or just watching the waves rise and fall. I was mesmerized. Memories captured me and pulled me to and fro with each wave. Dad was the first to introduce me to the ocean. How could I not call that to mind? The sound of the waves at night reminded me of that nighttime introduction that terrified me with the thunder of the waves and a body of water that was dark and endless. The ocean held an ocean full of moments with family, of children exploring, of sand between my toes. I looked at it wondering if the only thing my grandchildren would know is a barren span of water full of plastic. A place where our planet cried for what it lost.
I talk often of memories. We are memories in the making. What will be the things our families remember? What opportunities are there that we ignore by just the task of living day to day. My son James often talks of the smell of the house on Neff Road. It was the smell of pies in the oven, the fire in the fireplace and that of his grandparents. Dad always smelled of the field, of hay. Mom always smelled like pies and noodles. I probably smell like plant soil and topical pain relievers.
Perhaps our house smells of Play Doh and evergreen. Maybe the sight of a musical instrument or a painting will pull memories of our home and of us. Our senses are so attached to our memories that we cannot deny what they hold for us. Mine seem to always bring on a smile and a warm place in my heart. How about yours?
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.