Wednesday, June 29, 2011


My Grampa Avery's birthday tonight. He's the best, my Gramps. I've never, in my whole life, walked out of his arms without him telling me he loved me. Sometimes even two or three times. In a word of arguments, grudges and misunderstandings, it's always been a loving, unconditional constant for me. I felt, growing up, and still, that in my grandparent's eyes, I could do no wrong. Not that they didn't scold or discipline us as children, but always, they loved us harder than one would think is even possible.

At Gram & Gramp's, I went downstairs at some point this evening, half to get a drink out of the 'fridge in the cellar, half to escape my mom...who chooses to believe that when dogs tussle under people's feet annoyingly, it's my fault, and snapped that I put them outside. (My own dog was at home, mind-you, but apparently since I own a dratted dog, I am responsible for all dog's displeasing behavior, world-wide. Or it was my fault because obviously my own dog taught these other dogs to be jerks in his long career of being a trainer of jerky dogs. Duh. For whatever reason, if it's dog-related, I usually get yelled at.) Anyhow, that wasn't the being cranky. The point was the basement.

Ah, The Basement. Maybe this sound silly, but their basement is my favorite smell in the universe. I nearly hyperventilate when I'm down there because I'm trying to breathe as much of it in as possible. I've heard your sense of smell is the strongest sense, evoking forgotten memories, swaying your emotions powerfully, and I believe it. There are a lot of smells I love...Lilacs, hay fields, clean sheets, peaches, vanilla, fresh turned dirt, campfire smoke, Fall, but truly, nothing comes close to The Basement.

What makes this smell? If I could somehow recreate it, I would...let's's a mix of perpetually damp floor, fresh wood-working projects, and potatoes in the root cellar. Aged canvas life jackets, turpentine, the wall of canned pickles. Laundry hanging over the washer, a huge chest freezer from 1960, home-made lawn chairs and a canoe. It's sixty years of kid's skis and bikes and sleds up on the ceiling. It's love.

The stairs leading down are so rickety, they rock back and forth like a suspension bridge when you descend, but I've never worried they will fall. I don't really think of them at all, because as soon as I start down, the smell overpowers me and I'm happy and safe.

The basement is about Popsicles and beloved antique tools, it's about learning to drive the ancient Cub Cadet lawn tractor when I was ten. It's about the black rotary dial telephone in the corner, and the wooden toboggan. It's about hidden Christmas gifts, and storing extra holiday platters of food. It's about making the bouquets for my sister's wedding, hauling out the sprinkler, and Gramp in coveralls, oil-undercoating his car. It's a little bit of everything. Half the memories I hold dear, brought to life in a single whiff.

The dogs can wrestle, folks can bicker, children can run amuck, I'll just take in few more wonderful breaths and then, when I head back on up, I'll get another hug to top it off.

No comments:

Post a Comment