“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.”

Last night my feet were cold. I found some socks then wrapped my feet in a blanket. I wore my sweatshirt to stay warm. This morning the house was only 63°. The sky is gray. The wind is blowing. It is an ugly day.

When I was a kid, June was a special month. The weather got warm, sometimes even hot. School wrapped up for the year. On the last day, a half day, we’d get our report cards. The nun would call us up to her desk one name at a time. I’d check my report card as I walked back to my desk to make sure I’d been promoted. I always was.

All the school year rules ended. No more waking up early. Bedtime was later. Meals, except for supper, were catch as catch can. I’d make my own lunch, usually a sandwich and some Oreos if there were any left. Oreos went fast in our house. Bologna was my sandwich meat of choice. The bread was always white. I’d slather the bread with mustard and add a few chopped hot peppers. The juice from the peppers sometimes leaked through the top of the bread. I didn’t care. Sandwiches didn’t have to be pretty.

I have favorite smells. I used to love walking uptown when the aroma of baking bread from Hank’s filled the air. Sometimes I could smell popcorn popping at the candy store. My mother’s kitchen was always filled with great smells. Cookies baking were the best. I used to hang around until a batch came out of the oven so I could snag one. Chocolate chip was the summer cookie. On Saturdays the air was redolent with the smell of mown grass. Every father was out with a mower. Back then they were all hand mowers so you could hear the click click as the grass was mown. I could always smell summer rain before it came. The sharp odor of ozone filled the air. After the rain, I could smell earth, dirt from the gardens.

In Ghana, my favorite smell was wood charcoal burning. It was a sweet smell. In the mornings the compounds behind my house had smoke curling into the air from the fires when breakfast was being cooked. Every meal was the same, three times a day. The market had different smells as you walked around to shop. The fruit and veggie markets, the butcher’s shop and the live chickens for sale areas had distinct smells. When I first got to Ghana, I found some smells unpleasant. I even threw up after my first visit to a market, but it didn’t take long for my nose to get used to the smells. I stopped noticing.

Summer mornings have the best smells.

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2 Comments on ““Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    My feet were also cold last night. Unfortunately, it was because my spouse cranks down the AC at night to 70°. She’s always hot and I’m always cold. 🙂

    Yesterday, we received no rain, but experienced a gust of wind in the early evening from the northeast. The gust was a result of an outflow boundary from a severe line of thunderstorms that passed to our northeast. It was so unusual that the weatherman on TV last night was able to show it on the radar by turning up the gain to full on his weather radar.

    Here in Texas school is already out for the summer. When I attended school here as a kid the classrooms were hot in late May. They opened up all the double hung windows in the classrooms and placed huge electric fans in the back of each classroom to move the air around. Today, all of the schools are air conditioned. I will spare everyone on my opinion of summer vacation from school.

    When I moved to NYC in the 8th grade I was surprised to learn that the summer vacation didn’t begin until late June. The difference was that we received a ten day Spring break for Easter and Passover. Of course it didn’t get warm in New York until late June.

    Olfactory memory is amazingly strong. As you mentioned, the aroma of freshly baked bread brings back very strong memories of bakeries from the distant past or of your grandmother baking bread.

    When I was in High School one summer I worked for my uncle who had an office supply business in lower Manhattan in the financial district. The aroma of freshly made pizza, emanating from the numerous pizzerias in the neighborhood would cause me to stop off, after delivering packages to customers, and buy a slice. If I resisted the aroma of pizza, I would be enticed by the aroma of shawarma being grilled in the first middle eastern fast food restaurants I had ever seen. Sometimes, I would get a falafel sandwich instead. If ai resisted that, I would get a big soft pretzel.

    My uncle employed a bookkeeper who was a middle aged woman from Brooklyn. She would warn me in her thick Brooklyn accent, “Robert, if you keep eating like that, you will weigh a ton when you get older”. She was wrong. I only weigh about 180 lbs. and I’m 5 foot 10 inches tall. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      Today I am also wearing socks. It is only in the low 50s and has been all day.

      Any weather from the north is usually bad weather here. The rain is the heaviest and the same with the snow. We all feel a bit of dread when a nor’easter is predicted.

      The schools here don’t start until after Labor Day and then add in a vacation week in February and another in April which means mid-June is the earliest schools end. It isn’t yet hot here where most schools are not air-conditioned.

      I love the smell of wood burning. I used to buy wood charcoal for barbecuing. It always brought me back to Ghana. Sugar cookies baking remind me of my mother and Christmas time.

      I love Middle Eastern food, but there are no restaurants around here. I went to many in Ghana but none had shawarma. I love pizza. The local store where I spend so much money is several small stores in one. I usually snag a piece of pizza at one of them.

      I usually temper my eating from day to day.

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