Thursday, April 17, 2008

The smell of daffodils

Memory and smell are twisted together in funny ways, don't you think?

We lived in the small Georgia town of Perry when I was four years old. I think we lived there less than a year, though to my 4-year-old mind it seemed longer. Funny, but I have many distinct(though possibly faulty - I was only four, after all) memories of our time in Perry, Georgia. For example, my infamous tricycle ride to town and my subsequent run-in with the law over that little escapade.

The smell of daffodils recalls another Perry memory. It was early spring. The family piled into the old green Chevy station wagon and headed out to Mr. Cotton's place. Mr. Cotton, Daddy's boss, had a big old house and some land outside of Perry proper. When we arrived at Cotton's on that spring day, we were treated to a wondrous site: a big field of bright yellow daffodils. Daffodils, daffodils, daffodils - all spread out before us.

Ah, but things got even better. The grown-ups let us loose on that wide yellow carpet to pick as many daffodils as we wanted. Can you imagine anything better than that? Human beings are never given permission to pick flowers; maybe one or two here and there, but never as many as we want. Usually just the opposite, in fact: "Do Not Pick The Flowers!" But that one time, that one spring day, we were told to go forth and pick to our hearts' content.

Well, it was a big field, and even four active children picking everything in sight didn't make much of a dent in the daffodil-carpet. Armloads of flowers, the musky scent of the yellow blossoms, the joy of getting to do the usually-forbidden - well, it was a memorable experience.

Now, I might have the story wrong. Maybe it wasn't Mr. Cotton's place. Maybe the field wasn't that big. Maybe we were told we could pick no more than 5 or 10 flowers. I'm sure Big Bro - who is much, much older than I - will correct me.

But I know it was daffodils, because every time I get a whiff as I pass a flower stand or sit next to a big bowl of them, I'm four years old and picking all the daffodils I want.


Anonymous said...

I remember it well!

I think you have remembered all the details brilliantly. I was in the 6th grade that year in "gnat-ville". Do you remember putting the daffodils in a bottle of ink and turning them blue?(really more of a sickly green) Why? because we could, I guess.

Years later in British Literature class, the Wordsworth poem, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud", the line about A host of golden daffodils, I would always remember that field in Perry. The four of us sure did put a dent in that "host" that day.

One "much" would have sufficed in the older brother comment! BTW.

Anonymous said...

One of my earliest childhood memories was a visit to that home in Perry. Having been served a doughnut, I remember stepping outside and it immediately (and literally) being covered with gnats! Could that really have been 1955/56? Thanks for reviving that old memory.


MaryB said...

Yes, Cuz - Perry, Georgia in the mid-1950s was certainly "Gnat-ville USA." You couldn't go outside without having them cover you from head to toe. Bet I swallowed a million of those little suckers that yea.

Bro - Yeah! Proof that my 4-year-old mind works way better than my (mumble-mumble)-year-old brain. And now that you mention it, yes, I do remember sticking them in ink to turn them blue-ish. (I knew I'd get you with the second "much.")

Anonymous said...

Yo, Cuz, you got "served"????
A doughnut??? Did you eat that gnat covered delight?
Yes, it was the summer of 1955. When we first moved to Perry we thought the natives were VERY friendly because they were always waving. Truth be told they were just shooing the gnats.
Fun times! Huh?
Sorry, Sis, we strayed from your delightful "daffodil" theme.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Yep, sometimes it's only a whiff of something that takes us back in time to a very specific memory. I love when that happens. What a sweet story this was Mary.

Anonymous said...

Yes William, served. Not given nor sold. And the gnats added (as I recall) a certain tangy flavor to what was probably a classic Krispy Kream. Do "they" have those in New York, Shorty?

MaryB said...

Why, yes, indeed, we have Krispy Kremes in NYC, though I'm glad (for my diet's sake) that I don't have a store near me. Mmmmmmmmmm. Hot Krispy Kreme. (And what's this "they" business?)

Liz Hinds said...

Scent is the most powerful memory aide I think.

You've painted a wonderful picture here. Picking as many as you wnated: how wonderful!