Do you know the old Kris Kristofferson song, “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”? The lyrics are really poetic in a country kind of way. He paints a sharp picture of what it’s like to wake up in a “sleeping city” (probably Nashville) with a terrible hangover and yet sharply observe the Sunday morning.
Part of that description is the “Sunday smell of someone frying chicken,” which takes the singer back to “something left behind.” Smell is powerful at evoking memories, perhaps more powerful than any other sense.
I spent this Sunday morning baking cookies, not an activity I often pursue, and the scent of the cookies took me back to Mother baking at Christmastime. The recipe was from my sister Juanita–I will share it if she permits, but not today–and called for nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon, as well as chopped dates, raisins and walnuts. Something about the spices and the scent of dried fruit baking reminded me of Mother making a blackberry jam cake which used the same spices.
That was a three-layer cake iced with boiled icing. Some people think a jam cake is just another fruitcake, but it doesn’t have those nasty candied fruits. And when it is baking, the house smells of those Christmas spices and baking blackberries.
Thinking of Mother reminds me of another scent. When I was young she always used perfumed dusting powder on her thighs and arms and chest. She said it kept her from chafing. I can’t remember what kind it was, although I faintly remember a pink round box with gold trim and a flat white pad instead of a powder puff. I do remember a strong flowery scent with a bit of baby powder smell as well. She was fond of Estee Lauder when she got older, but I don’t think we could afford that back in the day. I wish I could smell it again.
So another Sunday is winding down. Here’s to a good week, to all of us on sleeping city sidewalks, bustling suburban highways, and quiet villages. Peace out.