My favorite smells come from the green loamy earth and the blue churning sea.
I am ten years old. I stand beside my grandfather on the pier … it’s called Scotch Bonnet, but that matters little. I don’t remember what time of year it is, but it’s almost cold. I’m wearing a bright green Winnie-the-Pooh jacket, but the wind coming off the sea makes me shiver a little. i don’t say anything … If Grandpa Jack sees that, this time will be over and I’m not really ready for that. We are at the very end of the Pier, and it’s swaying a little on the tide.
I am thirteen. I am alone in the woods. I am hiding from angry voices and accusing arguments. My safe world is breaking apart (not for the last time) and I just want to be in the quiet. I sit beneath a tall tree, wedging myself into it’s mossy roots. The tree sways a little and I close my eyes.
Ten. There are caught fish, and the salty smell of the sea. The smell of the fish mixes in my Grandpa’s favorite clothes along with his pipe tobacco. Sir Walter Raleigh brand. Such a noble name. Sometimes, when he’s away, I open the tin just a bit to inhale the rich, earthy, heady aroma of fresh leaves …
Thirteen. The floor of the wood is littered with last season’s dead leaves. If I dig my fingers into the ground and raise them to my face … I remember a worn plaid woolen shirt, a bit stiff with salt.
Ten. Mother insists that Grandpa not smoke around me, but I love the smell of his pipe. The smoke curling out of his mouth as he tells a joke or crafts a yarn. His yarns knit stories like sweaters, and take the chill away from my bones. Today he’s mostly silent, looking far out to sea. He checks his watch. “Time to head for home, Buzzard.”
Thirteen. I hear my mother calling, concerned but not angry with me, this time. I open my eyes and look up into the canopy. The sun is going down, somewhere. The filtered light is green and yellow and everything stands out in harsh focus. I slip a picture out of my pocket. At totem I carry for when the bullies target me, or I’m thinking alone and need someone to talk to. “Time to head for home.”
Ten. “… but Grandpa … this IS our home. Yours and mine.”
He laughs, and pauses to refill his pipe from the soft plaid bag.