Wednesday, August 21, 2002


So I'm sitting here thinking about what to post today. I'm already sorry I posted yesterday's whine and cheese, so we certainly don't want to go there again.

I'm sucking on a nice strong peppermint as I post, so I've decided to wax rhapsodic about smells and tastes. Not as pertains to blogs, this time, but some general stuff.

Smells have a close association to recall, so of course certain combinations of smells can take you way back. When I fill my mind with memories of the smell (and sounds and sights) of the salty, breezy Atlantic ocean, I remember sunny trips to visit my grandparents in Pompano Beach as I was growing up; of learning to body-surf; of collecting seashells; of washing tar off my feet and salt off the rest of me in a sandy little tile square by a pool. I remember walking on cold, gray, windswept beaches in college, jeans rolled up under my knees and briny spray in the beard I had then, and feeling the rest of life before me; optimism amid crashing surf and calling gulls, flying like hell just to keep stationary in the near-gale.

That delightful smell of wood burning conjures memories of innumerable camping trips as a Boy Scout; of learning to cook scrambled eggs on a griddle, and learning how to splice rope-ends into strong loops. I remember hiking the 72 miles of my trip to Philmont Scout Reservation, of giggling at hailstones the size of watch faces as they piled up outside the tents, because there was nothing we could do. I remember branding my boots, and reaching the summit of Mount Baldy before anyone else in my group. I remember the birch beer at Ponil Camp, the wooden tables we set the icy mugs on, and how it was the best thing I could remember ever tasting. I remember the fires Jennifer and I had in the fireplace in our house in Ashland, and that I never did get to make love to her by firelight.

Crushed grass... A whole mélange of associations there... Mowing the lawn weekend after weekend growing up; being at the grunting, painful bottom of a pile of plastic, sweat and limbs during football season; picnics and hikes with Jennifer; sitting and talking with my host brother in something that wasn't German and wasn't English as we slowly got smashed on hoppy, warm Holtzkirschner in a field outside Bad Neustadt.

Books and paper - almost too many memories to list: my parents' immense Random House Dictionary; the many old, blue-bound volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica I grew up with; the first Bible I received; the hundreds and hundreds of yellow, pulpy comic books I bought; the crisp, slick pages of the red-bound Lord of the Rings trilogy volume I still have, but have never finished; the red-dusted bookshelves of the Ashland house; the slightly vanilla-smelling pages of my copy of Cradle to Cradle; the musty, inviting shelves of the Corpus Christi school library in Cincinnati, where I learned about sketching, magic tricks and spaceships and pirates for the first time. The dog-eared high-school notebooks filled with as many smeared pencil superhero and anatomy sketches as words; the decades-old maroon-bound anatomy textbook my dad gave me when I asked. The sharp edges of folded and torn notepaper that I learned to make into Origami cranes, robins, grasshoppers, cicadas, airplanes and sailing ships, all forgotten. The rooms I've shared with Tripp in college and visited afterwards, from my fresh new copies of the Illuminatus! trilogy, to cheap copies of Principia Discordia to the Greek and Sanskrit books he eventually studied, to his copy of the Lays of Beleriand and spending days translating Tolkien's Tengwar script and memorizing historical Futhark runes. Inkwells and chisel-nib pens; learning twenty, thirty calligraphy "hands" and doing Cadeau ornamentation for Society for Creative Anachronism scrolls; copying goofy verses onto imitation vellum in Luxeuil Minuscule with blood-red ink to "ward" my dorm room.

Hey, I was young and already resigned to being weird. :-)

Anyway, this series of trips down Memory Lane has been brought to you by the numbers 3 and 2 and a long, empty afternoon. :-)


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