Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 27 - Sweaters, Pedicures, Pulp and Cow Manure

It's amazing how powerful our childhood memories are.  They shape our values and beliefs and can be triggered by one thing.  Two of my memory triggers are sweaters and pedicures. These two different items trigger the memories of my grandmothers.  Grandmothers are special. They do not judge us and if they do they are silent about it.  They listen and they cook!  As we get older and age takes hold of the mortal human body, we are saddened by their omission in our lives.  The memories we are left with however are the biggest joys. The biggest happy triggers.

Humans have memory triggers that set off  very strong recollections of past experiences.  A memory trigger can be a sound, a particular scent, or something you see that flashes you back into your past.  These triggers cause you to relive long ago times so intensely, nothing else exists but the moment you are reliving.  Memories relived so strongly, so vividly, you feel the same feelings you felt when the memory was born.

My maternal grandmother and I would "bake" cookies together.  The reason I say bake in quotes is they were actually the no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies.  We just mixed, put them on the wax paper and waited for them to cool.  This was such a special time for us.  Nobody else seemed interested in this cooking endeavor but we shared our love for it.  One time while we were waiting for the cookies to cool, I asked my grandmother if I should throw away my sweater because it had all these fur balls on the end of the sleeves and it was looking ratty.  Grandma came from the era of darning socks and canning pickles so just throwing away a perfectly good sweater was ludicrous to her.  She asked me to remove my sweater and left the room.  She came back with a razor blade.  I watched her miraculously "shave" my sweater.  I didn't know you could do this.  She painstakenly shaved each fur ball off one by one and returned it to me looking brand new!  She grumbled something about such nonsense of throwing away a perfectly good sweater.

Our dog digs the rugs with her nails to get it "just right" so that she can walk in a circle to the "right" angle and plop down to sleep on the rug.  Periodically I notice the fur balls gathering on the rug and think of what Grandma might mumble. The right thing to do would be to shave those fur balls.  So I get my sharp razor blade out and spend about twenty minutes shaving these one by one.  I eventually have to put a bandaid on when I'm done but the rugs look brand new.

Although my times with my paternal grandmother were limited I remember how she loved the wind.  She would comment on the wind while she tended to her day lilies in the backyard.  While she did this, I would try to hoist the basketball up to the taaaalll backboard they had in the backyard. It was waaaay up there.  (I think this is when I first fell in love with basketball.) I would get so sweaty and would ultimately have to come in the house and take a shower.  She would help me get ready, get the towels and would always say as she looked at my bare feet,  "Remember when you get older to get pedicures.  There is no reason why any woman should have ugly feet." Nobody in my family got pedicures that I recall when I was nine or so and at that time in my life I didn't know what a pedicure was.  But to this day when the soles of my feet get too dry or the nail polish on my toenails chip, I give myself a pedicure.  If I'm fortunate enough to have the money, I get a pedicure at the nail salon.

"Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell musty and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer has no texture, no context. It's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then the getting of knowledge should be tangible. It should be... smelly."  This is so true, to this day I love the smell of pulp from the local paper mill and fresh cow manure.  I can't stand pig, horse, or turkey manure but don't mind the manure smell from a holstein.  The smell of both remind me of my childhood.  I'm looking forward to being a grandmother someday but am in no big hurry.  I'll pass on the traditions of pedicures, day lilies, no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies and sweaters.  I hope to pass on some of my own like the fresh smell of herbs, the garden and love of watching birds.

All I know now is that my sons think I'm weird.  My oldest son told me this week, "Mom you're weird, some mothers do yoga, and it's ok don't get me wrong but you blog, love birds and love basketball.  I'm not trying to hurt your feelings but I don't know anyone that's like you."  I smiled and didn't take it personally.  I thought it was great. I don't want to be like anyone else. If my grandmothers were like everyone else my brain wouldn't have been triggered by these wonderful memories.
The two offices of memory are collection and distribution. 
~Samuel Johnson

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