That Scent

scentDo you ever catch a scent that brings you to someplace other than where you are?

I stepped outside this evening and caught that scent. The grass isn’t freshly mown. It was mowed a couple of days ago. That turned out to be perfect because I caught the faint smell of the wild flowers and of the warm air itself uninhibited by the newly cut grass smell.

Suddenly, I was 12 years old again. I was instantly transported back to my grandmother’s sun porch where my generation congregated during bath time. Then the memory added the faint smell of Dove soap (which I actually could smell because I’d just washed my hands), and Breck shampoo.

All of us cousins got to hang out on the sun porch while we waited for our turns for a bath. The adults probably would have preferred us to just be inside and stay inside after we were washed, but that would hardly be fair when the cousins we saw so rarely were still on the porch laughing and talking and getting to know each other all over again.

I remembered being told to be careful in my bare feet in the yard.  The adults would have preferred me (and all of us) to be shod, but I’d never really liked shoes. The whole point of summer was (and still is) to run around barefoot!

And then someone would get a nasty bee sting on the foot and we would have to endure the “told-ya-so” before we went out barefoot again. Or was that me and my childhood neighbors? Either way, it was the best of times.

It’s rare that I miss my past, but every time I catch that scent, I’m taken to a place in the past that I love and hold dear in my heart.

Big Blue

I like to cook. Organizing and laying out ingredients in order of use helps me organize my thoughts. It also helps me quiet all the rest of the stuff going on in my brain long enough to reflect on things that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

As I was browning meat for my special lasagna the other day in preparation for a visit from my dear sister-in-law, I started thinking about family, traditions, and meals cooked with love. Then suddenly, as silly as it may seem in comparison, it occurred to me how much I love the pan I was using.

I call the pan Big Blue. It is the only cooking utensil we have that has a name. The big blue frying pan had been a wedding present to my parents and is years older than me. It was passed down to me many moons ago when my parents did a kitchen upgrade and I moved into my first apartment.

Big Blue has certainly seen better days. Its bottom is a little warped. Nearly forty years worth of burn marks and stains mar the outside and make me wonder how bright the blue had been when the pan was new. The lid is missing its handle. Of course, we still use the lid. We just use a fork and an oven mitt to maneuver it.

In spite of all its dings, dents, and aesthetic shortcomings, it’s still often times the best pan for the job. No, I wouldn’t want to make an omelet in it, but it’s perfect for dishes like beef stroganoff, mashed potato pancakes, and—if I’m really flipping off my diet—fried chicken.

Big Blue is deep and weighs a ton. If it’s filled with sauce, I have to use two hands to hold it even remotely steady. And washing it—ugh! I don’t even want to think about that.

What I love to think about is all the meals over the years that had been prepared with love and care in that pan. My mother taught me to make beef stroganoff in it. I use it to make my meat sauce for my special lasagna. The first meal I ever made for my husband (while we were still dating) was made using Big Blue.

That pan made the food that made the memories. “Better”, lighter weight and non-stick coated pans will come and go—and they do. But I’ll never give up Big Blue.