As I Remember It: Scents and Sounds

When the air fills with the fragrance of lilacs in the spring,

I’m taken back to a warm summer afternoon and I hear the screendoor slam as someone goes in or comes out; the bike chain slips (in its usual way) when I take off down the road; the roller skate key isn’t where it usually is (so I have to hunt for it); and there’s koolaid on the back porch, along with fresh peaches to dip in granulated sugar after every juicy, messy bite.

When I hear the singular sound of a John Deere tractor,

I know that others may just chuckle a bit, because they just hear a funny-sounding tractor.  I hear security and predictability.  I remember the satisfaction of everything always being shut down for 36 hours on Saturday night.  The Quiet Day of Rest included church in the morning, and reading, hunting, treeclimbing, picnics down in the pasture or visiting with neighbors in the afternoon.  Sunday afternoon visits to neighbors a mile or ten away didn’t require advance notice, because it was understood that if you were at home, company was welcome.  The Singular Sound of a John Deere Tractor was never heard on Sunday unless someone’s vehicle had slid off a muddy or snowy road and needed to be pulled out.

When I smell the original Watkins salve,

I’m back in the kitchen on a November night at the end of the day, or a cold and windy April afternoon as Dad comes in for coffee.  The chapping of his hands from the raw work of repairing barbed wire fences has taken him to the trusty old red can to spread some farmer-style healing on.

When I hear “Largo” performed,

I’m back in the country church where “Largo” was The Command-Performance Prelude 52 Sundays A Year, including those Sundays when there was A Substitute Organist on the electronic organ due to the absence of the organist.  Substitute Organists, Whether Aged Fifteen Or Forty-Five always accept without question the need to perform “Largo” in such a Critically Accurate Manner that there is no audible evidence of the absence of the organist: any variation in volume or organ settings would be seen as an effort to improve on The Regular Organist’s Largo.  There certainly will not be any “Variations On Largo.”

So there I am on a Thursday afternoon in the country church playing “Largo.” Again and again, until Mom is satisfied that I have achieved Critical Accuracy.    

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