Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Friday, April 20, 2018

Whiff


I popped the top off a bottle of guava juice yesterday.
I caught a whiff.
And that little whiff transported me, for just a second, to my Aunt Grace’s kitchen.
I’m not sure why. I’m fairly certain she didn’t keep bushels of guavas.
But nevertheless, that’s what happened.
My Aunt Grace wasn’t really my aunt. She was actually married to my Dad’s cousin. Which made her my dad’s cousin-in-law. And my second cousin-in-law? Sooo, Second-Cousin-In-Law Grace? ‘Aunt’ was just easier.
Aunt Grace and her family lived on the next farm to my family.
Which made us neighbours. A few miles apart.
I loved going to her house. Not only was her daughter, Jeannie, one of my best friends, but there were always good eats emerging from Aunt Grace’s huge kitchen.
Aunt Grace had a big bin that opened out from beneath her lower cupboards. A bin full of flour. I had never seen anything like it and thought it was the coolest thing ever. There also may have been a second bin full of sugar, but I’m not certain so you didn’t read it here.
Ahem . . .
She was what I call a ‘dump’ cook. She would take a bowl, dump a bunch of stuff in it (without measuring, I might add).
Stir.
Aunt Grace, Far left.
Bake.
Cake.
It would be burnt on one end because the oven wasn’t level. But delicious everywhere else.
On the wall opposite the table, where one was guaranteed not to miss it, Aunt Grace had a cat clock. I know you’ve seen them. A small black and white cat. With a tail that swings as a pendulum and great, staring eyes that go back and forth with every tick.
It was quite hypnotic.
Jeannie and I spent a lot of time in that kitchen. Eating that food. Watching that clock.
Second from right.
Or simply stealing foodstuffs (ie. eggs) to add to our own amazing culinary mud masterpieces out in the yard.
Aunt Grace was fun, funny and had the best, most infectious laugh. She was a talented writer, a hoot

at parties and a warm and giving friend.
I loved being at her house. And I loved her.
She’s been gone nearly four years, but, for just a moment, she and her kitchen were as clear as if I had just seen them moments ago.
Amazing, isn’t it, what can flash through one’s mind from one. Single. Whiff.

Aunt Grace

14 comments:

  1. The sense of smell is powerful! I get these flashes often. Your Aunt Grace sounds like a wonderful person to have as a relative while growing up. We soak up all those kindnesses and don't even know how lucky we are at the time. But now . . . now we know.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, a smell can take you back in time.......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Instantly! It's pretty amazing, actually . . .

      Delete
  3. Oh yes. Scent and memory are very, very close.
    And how lovely to be reminded of someone who sounds so special.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She really was. I can hear her laugh to this day!

      Delete
  4. Clever way to tie this post together. It's a good way to remember family. I'm sure your rellies would enjoy this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure hoping so! Sending it to her daughter today! :)

      Delete
  5. Such a kind face. It's amazing how scents can transport us through time. It's happened to me, too. I get transported, from time to time, back to my grandmother's kitchen in the Bronx.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Aunt Grace was fun, funny and had the best, most infectious laugh. She was a talented writer, a hoot
    at parties and a warm and giving friend.
    I loved being at her house. And I loved her."
    I want to be just like your Aunt Grace :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wonderful memories you have.
    Real eggs in mud pies??
    My mum would have sent me to bed without dinner for such wastage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. Not sure what the consequences would have been for us. We were very, very sneaky . . .

      Delete

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