“Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory…” —Writing 101, Day 2
I received this photo last year from ideflex over at her Across the Bored blog. The idea was to exchange photos and then edit the other one’s work. She did a great job on my photo and, for some reason, I have not been able to return the favor.
Many days and nights have gone by and the photo still sits on my computer’s desktop. I open it and stare at the snow on the tree branch and something draws me in. I am assaulted by memories, some clear and some distant.
First Things First
The first memory I have is of the Fir trees in front of my Grandparents’ house in Ohio. I used to sit under them on hot Summer days, taking refuge in the aromatic green shade of the foliage. Cars and trucks lumbered slowly past on the roadway a scant 30 feet away. So close, but yet so far away.
It was a sharp contrast to the trees we had in Florida. In our front yard we had a Palm tree and a Ficus tree that were ringed with Croton and Hibiscus plants. The trees offered just enough shade to keep the living room cooler than the outside temperature, but they lacked the aroma of the Fir trees.
Christmas in the sub-tropics was the time of year that the aromatic smell of evergreen trees permeated the air indoors. The odor of those flat shiny leaves always returned my thoughts to Summers in Ohio and spending time with my Grandparents.
If I was to be transported anywhere it would be to an Evergreen forest and perhaps that is somehow related to our move to the state of Colorado in the 1970s. My first impression of Colorado was that the entire state smelled like Christmas all year-round. Childhood memories of Ohio were brought to mind once more as we hiked the forests of Blue Spruce and Pine.
And then there was the snow, just like in the photo. It did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for the sight and scent of the Evergreens. In fact, it heightened my senses for months on end. The aroma of the Spruce trees was a soothing balm for my dry nasal passages. I felt at peace in the mountains, especially in the quiet of the falling snow.
In the Still of the Night
January of 1978 found me working on a coal-strip mining operation in Axial, Colorado. I stayed in a hotel room in the town of Meeker during the week and drove home on the weekends. Each night after dinner I would take a walk in the deserted streets of downtown.
Snow was a foot or more deep and every night more fell from the black sky. It was so dry that the white snowflakes resembled falling leaves, drifting quietly to rest on the flakes of the previous day.
One night after my walk the desk clerk knocked on my door and said, “There is a phone call downstairs at the desk from your wife.”
I thanked him and followed him down one flight of stairs to the small lobby. I said, “Is it ok to use the house phone for this call?”
“We don’t have a public pay-phone and it is snowing, so go ahead and take your time.” the clerk said.
My wife informed me that my Grandfather had just died and that was when Time stood still. After a long pause she suggested that I call her back, collect, from a more private phone. I thanked the clerk and went upstairs to get my coat and boots.
I didn’t even take notice of the temperature or the clear sky as I trudged to the phone-booth across the street. The Lioness and I talked for sometime about what had happened and what preparations were being made for the funeral.
Finance and circumstance prevented me from attending the service, but what I am left with is the memory of stepping out of the phone-booth and looking up at the snow that had begun to fall. The flakes were the size of potato chips and made a faint crunching sound as I walked on them.
“What is the source of our
It is in the fact that we
hesitated to speak.
It was born in the
things within us.”
I looked up and down Market Street and realized that I was the only person outside in the snow at that time. I looked up at the sky again and had the feeling that I was inside one of those glass snow-globes, the kind that you shake up and then watch the “snow” fall onto the objects inside the sphere.
I turned around in a complete circle and looked again—up, down, left, right. The snow-globe feeling was still there, so I started walking. I walked for about 2 hours and smelled the Blue Spruce, thought of my Grandfather and donned a layer of snow on my head and coat.
The smell of Evergreens takes me to my Grandparents. When I hear Silent Night I am reminded of my Grandmother; When I see snow I am reminded of my Grandfather.
This is the first time that I have shared these stories. I hope that I can now get on with the pleasant task of editing that memorable photo. Stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen.