On Childhood and Irene

Today brought with it a wistful moment of nostalgia and a sense of home that I wasn’t expecting.  I’ve been tracking Irene in a oddly focused way since hearing she was going to come have a visit in the lovely hamlet of Watertown, MA thinking it would be a fun reprieve and a good excuse to stay in all day and watch tv or read.  I didn’t anticipate opening windows to smell home and have a sense that I was ten again and running through blueberry fields come crashing down on me.

If you know me, you know that I grew up in the middle of a 50 acre low bush wild blueberry field in rural Downeast Maine.  You know that I am passionate and obstinate about my blueberries and refuse to eat any other berry than those that hail from Maine.  
As a small child one of my favorite parts of the summer was the time when there were local high-schoolers trudging away in the fields trying to rake berries so they could replace their wardrobes for the school year.  I would lay a blanket out in the backyard of our big farmhouse and read in the sunshine while everyone else toiled away in the fields getting sunburnt and turning purple.  On those long whiling August days I would always lift my head and stop, staring over the rakers bent double and moving slowly down their rows.  I could smell the berries around me – the alcoholic slightly fermented berries, the leaf-litter of the warm ground below, the spice bugs that were inevitably stepped on, raked or just panicked and let off a puff of smell (something between nutmeg, clove and walnuts).  It was all there carried to me on the wind that blew over the crest of the hill we lived on.  It was always the same.  The smell was a constant for me that will always mean home.
Photo via: boston.cbslocal.com
Imagine my surprise when I woke this morning and opened the window to listen to the rain when I could smell blueberry fields in Watertown.  I was home.  I was nostalgic for fresh berry pie and long hay fields that tickled my legs.  I wanted to be a kid again, home watching the blueberry rakers and reading a novel by Roald Dahl in the sunshine.  I felt like I’d been given a gift and a reminder to appreciate the small things. So this hurricane that has admittedly caused many stress and heartache has caused me an indescribable amount of joy.  Just for bringing me this spicy-sweet-earthy scent and reminding me of sunshine and the carefree-ness of childhood.

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