Friday, January 18, 2013

Gardening - More Than Food and Flowers

“Nothing is more memorable than a smell.  One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town.  Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years.  Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once.  A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.  ~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses


We say we garden simply to provide food for our families and flowers to decorate our living spaces. Yet there are more senses we seek to satisfy and conjure up memories of former days and events.

Scents, once fixed in our minds, never go away, and remain as fresh as the day we first learned them. And along with those scents we remember when and where we first became aware of them.

I smelled my first cornfield on Uncle Charlie’s farm in the White Oak Creek bottom. The corn was tasselling and the leaves were rustling in the wind. Both that sweet scent and the sound of that sea of rustling leaves are seared in my mind. My memories were vivid as my own sweetcorn tasseled in early May this year.

Momma loved flowers. The rich scent of her petunias and gardenias will always be with me, as will the acrid scent of her marigolds. Each is unique and firmly fixed in my mind.
A scent of any of those takes me back to those places and times.

Honeysuckle blooms can scent a wide area. One cannot smell their aroma and not remember riding along country roads with the windows down. Travelling those same roads we loved the petrichor smell of wet dusty roads. It’s almost the same smell of a rain dampened door screen.

In the last few years I have learned the rich sweet smell of Winter Daphne in midwinter just when I need a reminder to start planning for warm weather. She blooms when the air is dense and brightens my whole backyard. Some say she has the sweetest scent of any flower. I agree, though gardenia is a close second. But they are distinctly different in my mind.

Basil is a herb which graces my garden and an occasional Italian dish. She has the added benefit of repelling unwanted bugs in my garden.

I expect each of us has most if not all of these same wonderful memories deeply etched in our minds, and many more.

Aint God good!
Carl Wayne Hardeman

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