Thursday, 23 July 2020

Memories

My mother would have been 130 today - yes both of my parents were born in July - both born under the sign of Cancer - father slap bang in the middle, mother on the cusp - if she had been born on the    24th she would have been a Leo.   As far as I know they had a happy marriage - it lasted well over fifty years.   I don't ever remember  them falling out.   My father used to complain sometimes about mother's cooking (mainly that she had not strained the green veg properly!) but she was a jolly good cook so there was little to complain about.   And one thing I do know is that they never lost their sense of humour either with one another or with the wider world.

I have most likely told this story before but it merits telling again.   It is one of my earliest memories - I can't have been more than four because we moved house when I was four and it was before we moved because we had a garden which was visible from the kitchen window.   My father grew vegetable marrows (mother made a delicious stuffed marrow - the recipe for which I still use) and any which were surplus at the end of the season were hung under the bottom pantry shelf in string bags, to be used in Winter.   Mother was checking them one day and saw that one had gone rotten.   She brought it out into the kitchen.   Father was working in the garden and she speculated on whether she could hit him with it if she threw it.   She did and she could - it hit him fair and square on the back of his neck as he bent down.   He came in with the rotten remnants, laid my mother on the kitchen table and covered her from head to toe in bits of rotten marrow.   I can still hear her shrieks to this day and I can remember jumping up and down and shouting.

So today in her honour I cooked for my lunch  what she so often cooked for me when - after I had left home- I popped in to see them.   Egg, chips and peas.   Sadly it was not as good.   The eggs were from our farm, where the people who bought it have a flock of hens and brought me some only laid yesterday (they were delicious);  the chips were oven chips - quite good but not like mothers which would be father's potatoes, chipped and friend in beef dripping, and peas - today Bird's Frozen Garden Peas - mother's would again have been father's or, when they had finished for the season they would have been dried peas, soaked and then cooked slowly in the side oven of the open fire grate.  No comparison - add to this that one's taste buds get feebler when old age sets in.   So pleasant lunch but no comparison - just happy memories of what it used to be.

And speaking of memories - not taste this time but smell.   I never ever smell Dettol without being reminded of walking into the Maternity Hospital heavily into labour with my son - the whole place smelt of Dettol.   That's two of my senses which seem to still be functioning properly.   What about you - have you any memories prompted by your senses?   If so - do tell.

34 comments:

Ruth said...

I love reading your memories - thank you so much for painting pictures with your words.

The smell of olive oil (somehow it doesn't have the same fruity scent it did years ago) brings back the memory of Mom oiling a tiny infant and wrapping its little body with a "belly band" (to protect the navel?) on the kitchen table. My brother Bobby was born 17 months after me, and Jack was born a year later, so it must have been Jack. Both my brothers are memories now, too.

Please keep telling your wonderful stories from your heart!!

Rachel Phillips said...

Odd that your mother would only be 103 today.

Mary said...

My mother was born in 1911, died at age 91. I was just looking at her photo last evening and thinking how sad she would be if still living in this awful state of affairs worldwide. She was a busy woman, always on the go both in the home and at her many jobs. She would not enjoy being 'locked down' at all!

My memories of childhood are many - the fragrance of Yardley's lavender soap, Dettol of course when one is English, fresh mown grass, sweet peas, mint in pots, seaweed along the shoreline, salt on my skin from ocean on a hot day after a swim. . . . .

Thanks for your memories Pat.

Derek Faulkner said...

That is a lovely and nostalgic post Pat.

My father was born 6th June 1919 (whatever sign that is) and so would of been 101 this year, not sure if that's odd.
I was born July 4th 1947 and so like your parents, I'm a Cancerian and have many of the correct traits, especially being a home lover and lover of my own company.
The one smell that takes me back, is one that many people seem to relate too, the warm smell of potato peelings and bran being prepared to feed the chickens with.

JanF said...

The smell of home made mint sauce or mint being chopped, takes me straight back to wonderful lamb dinners on Sundays when I was growing up!
You mother must have been very young when you were born. I am 75 and both my parents were born in 1920, so would have turned 100 this year.
I was just chatting to a friend in Illinois. Her grandparents were immigrants from the Ukraine. Her grandma had her mother when she was 17 (and married already). The grandma had memories of seeing the Czar riding his horse while out hunting. I find that amazing.

the veg artist said...

I thought you had a brother quite a few years older than yourself, Weave? 103 is confusing us!

JayCee said...

The smell of Dettol makes me think of Dad. I remember my childhood days at home when he used to add it to his bathwater for some reason. Goodness knows what it must have done to his skin.

The Furry Gnome said...

When I smell Boxwood growing here it immediately reminds me of our visits to gardens in England, especially Hidcote and Sissinghurst.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

When I was younger I remember everyone's house having different smells, probably the result of many houses being damp, lots of boiled cabbage, and mothballs.
At this time of year the smell of the dust raised by combine harvesters whisks me right back to sitting at the edge of the field watching the old Massey Harris combine making its way around the headlands at slightly less than walking pace - I'd have been about six at the time.
The smell of pipe tobacco reminds me of a man called Geoff who used to give me a lift to my college in London. He used to hand me his pipe to fill for him before he clenched it between the only two of his teeth that lined up opposite each other and then puffed away merrily. If he had anything exciting to relate the pipe used to slip around and deposit burning tobacco on his trousers which produced another evocative smell (and a good deal of bad language!).

Anonymous said...

Smells are so so evocative as everyone here has mentioned. I notice none of them evolve unpleasant memories. Nor do mine. My initial ones are, the smell of rosemary brings to mind my grandma, who always rinsed hair in rosemary water, also like Derek, the smell of potato peelings being boiled for the chickens. Come to think of it though, that’s a kind of memory smell as I haven’t actually smelled it for probably near 70 years.

Regina M. said...

My grandmother's favorite scent "Lilies of the Valley." No wonder she had so many planted in her side garden. Long after she had died, I recall working very hard at stripping many layers of paint on the hall banister in an old 1700's home we'd bought - thinking about her, and suddenly picking up the scent myself. Strange. Another connection to my grandmother (who took care of my brother and me while my mother worked) was going down to the stone cellar on a hot summer day and lifting the stone on top of the lid of the old wooden barrel - smelling the brined pickles. I always picked one out - crunchy & cool - a treat on a hot day.

Bettina Groh said...

My Mother would be 109 on August 3rd. You mentioned peas... she made a white creamy soup with fresh green peas in it. I have been trying to duplicate it. The liquid was light and I think it had an egg because she worried about curdling. Can you help?? Her English half (Cocker) was Yorkshire.

Gail, northern California said...

Like Ruth, I love reading your memories.

It's the smell of lilacs for me. We had just moved to a farm in Minnesota (northern US). One day my brother and I were out playing when we smelled this heavenly fragrance. Like dogs, we sniffed the air 'til we found its origin...beautiful white and lavender lilac bushes growing next to a small abandoned farm house. It became our favorite place.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Fun Memories
In summer I think of Asbury Park, New Jersey. The summer my jeans were 29 X 29, and a half pound for fudge bought on the boardwalk was free to eat without weight worry.

Bovey Belle said...

Oh dear, I was hooting with laughter over that marrow tale! I am an absolutely ROTTEN shot, but as kids we used to play down in the abandoned brickyard. One day, we were lobbing bricks about - seeing how far we could throw them. I chucked mine, let go at the wrong time (as always) and it hit a lad (in our gang) on the head. Oh My Goodness - I never knew I could run so fast!

Smells for me - well paraffin is one, I can never smell it without being in Beauchops, down the road from our house. One side sold toiletries, wool, childrens' books, and the like, and the other was an ironmongers, which sold paraffin at the back. You took your can and got it filled.

And if I could ever smell it again, Manhattan perfume would take me right back to dancing at the Royal Pier . . .

Crushed grass always reminds me of horse shows, and newly-mown hay of many horsey moments.

Tracy said...

Paraffin for me too. I have been remembering the smell a lot lately and didn't really know why. Then I was telling my daughter about the power-cuts and three day weeks of the seventies and realised that we used paraffin heaters and lamps. The smell must have become associated not only with grim times, but also the comfort of home. So that's why the smell suddenly came to mind!

Ursula said...

What great memories, Weaver. Considering the marrow incident their marriage must have been a passionate one.

Taste? I remember dishes from my childhood. I don't do them. It's not the same.

Smell? Smell is evocative. There is one scent which was my beloved grandmother's, the woman I call my first mother, who brought me up and then died when I was eight. Eau de Cologne. Some years ago I bought a tiny little bottle (in Cologne, the shop just beyond the dome). I can't bring myself to open it. Too painful. She would be one hundred and twenty four (October) this year.

I have no idea if one can wish someone dead a Happy Birthday. Let's just try and see what happens. Happy Birthday to your Mother. Long may she live - if in memory only.

U

Heather said...

I have very similar memories with regard to Dettol. I only have to have one whiff and I am back nursing my newborn son, who will be 63 later this year. The scent of freshly picked tomatoes takes me right back to Grandad's greenhouse.
As for chips which I rarely eat now, home grown potatoes cut into chips and fried in beef suet cannot be beaten for flavour. A treat from the distant past!

Jenny said...

My husband & I were talking about this yesterday.

When he was in college in the 1980s he had a work scholarship that paid his way. He worked 30 hours a week on campus cleaning a large building & also went to class full time. Plus this was a private Christian college so they required church attendance every day plus serving in a ministry....needless to say he was very busy but he still graduated with honors.

I met him there my very first weekend on campus, a week after I graduated from high school. So all those years he cleaned this building I would find reasons to walk through or stop & visit with him as he polished floors or whatever. We heard they were tearing this building down. But I remember the clean scent of the polished floors. He kept them in pristine condition....they looked like glass they were so clean & shiny.

Another scent is the inside of my mother's china cabinet. I inherited the cabinet & still 40 to 50 years later when I open the door & reach in for something, I'm carried back to my childhood. The scent of the cabinet reminds me of my turn setting the table as mom cooked supper.

Unknown said...

I have not replied to your posts for a while as I have a new computer and although good, it sometimes will not let me reply to blogs. Smells have to be one of the strongest memory prods. Evening in Paris perfume, my mother getting ready to go out. Wrights coat tar soap which I still use, a special smell, my daughter in law says it always reminds her of me! Burning fire in the still of the evening and the smell of coal fires My mothers bedding chest which smelled of camphor, it still does and sits in one of my bedrooms. Johnsons baby powder, all my babies. Christmas cakes cooking, so special. I could go on forever. Love Andie xxx

Tom Stephenson said...

I have terrifying childhood memories of hospitals triggered by the smell of disinfectant. My father would be 113 now if he were alive.

Tom Stephenson said...

And my mother would be 103 too. I am 69... Have you left a number out Weave?

Bonnie said...

I love the stories of your past. Happy Birthday to your Mother today! You have such sweet memories of her and your Father. It is wonderful they could laugh and have fun together. A scent that would take me back was the smell of my Mother's cologne and powder. After she died I used to go to stores where it was sold just to smell it and remember her. I don't think it is made any more though as I can no longer find it.

Margie from Toronto said...

So strange to mention Dettol - the smell always reminds me of my grandmother - she used to put a capful into her bath water!

At the moment I don't think I will ever be able to forget the smell of Lysol - it has become pervasive during this pandemic.

Loved this post.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

The lovely scent of lilies of the valley. They grew in the yard next door to my Mom and Dad's house.The houses were close together and I could often smell those lilies of the valley in the mornings. Purple lilacs grew in the backyard and smelled so good. The first really hot nights in the summer around our current neighborhood seem to release the heavy, sweet fragrance of pink mimosas. They always smelled romantic to me. The very faint, scent of snow on the way in winter. My husband says he cannot smell it. I most certainly can and I'm almost always right.

Red said...

I think our Mother's cooking stays with us as it was the first cooking we knew and had it for a long time. I am 80 and still comment on what Mom cooked. she was a very good cook using her old wood stove. Mom would be 106 if she was still living.

Bea said...

I often think that we summer (July, specifically) babies are many, but maybe I notice them only because I, too, am one! My mother's husband, a Leo, wants to live to be 103 as his grandmother lived to such a ripe, old age. He's 83 & no longer in rude health, so we shall see!

Cro Magnon said...

I was born on the 22nd, and was always a Leo, Then someone changed it and I became a Cancerian. I don't think my character has changed. As for aromas, the smell of Ambre Solaire instantly takes me back to the Italian Riviera of my teens.

Rachel Phillips said...

You are on the cusp of Leo and Cancer Cro. You will have traits of both.

saraband said...

I recently bought a pump of Pears hand soap. The scent took me straight back to early childhood in Ealing in the 1940s.

A Smaller Life said...

Things like the marrow story just stay in your memory forever don't they. As children we all love to see our parents having fun and acting like big kids.

The smell of fresh paint mixed with gas reminds me of my late great-uncle and aunt. He was always painting in the house, touching things up and titivating etc, and their gas fire was kept on so low the little flame puckered and flickered and the smell of gas always escaped. The two together are very evocative for me, although rarely smelt these days.

Linda Metcalf said...

My grade school from almost seventy years ago still smells the same. I can walk into that building and be transported instantly.

Karla said...

I so enjoy your posts, and a very Happy Birthday to your Mother, on the Other Side! What a fun memory of your parents having a laugh with each other!!! I have enjoyed reading the commenters' smell memories as well. Smell is a powerful and mystical stimulant of memory. A summer smell for me, raised in the boiling hot South in the States - creosote oozing from telephone poles; you dare not touch the pole lest you wanted it on your hand for a very long time! A certain evergreen bush, I don't know its name, in combination with the chlorine in the pool, and the humidity and heat, sends me right back to Myrtle Beach, SC, where our family would vacation. The smell of green beans cooking with "fatback" (which is just a chunk of bacon) takes me to my Grandmother's house. Yes I think the lists could go on and on for all of us! I wonder what smells our own children remember? We could ask them!

marlane said...

That was such a great story about your parents !!! If I did that to my husband I don't know what he would do. You can see him on my blog riding our horse Coco. I think if you click on my name it goes to my blog.