Thursday, 10 November 2011

Tea and Spices

There are some smells that hold memories for us. In fact I've heard that the olfactory sense is the most powerful for being connected to memories. My Nana's sideboard has one of the strongest, most memorable scents for me. This particular piece of furniture sits in my Nana's back living room, the room that my Grandad lived in when he became bedridden in his final year or so, so that he could still be involved in the day to day goings on in the household. As a child I used to visit my Nana and Grandad every couple of years with my Mum or both my Mum and Dad if we could all get away on a trip "home" together. And as a child I didn't realize which parts of those trips would stay with me the most. Sometimes its the simplest little things that have the most lasting effects.

On the top of the sideboard there were usually crystal glasses on a doily on a tray and from my childhood perspective they were just pretty because of the way the glass was cut and they sparkled! There was usually a bottle or two beside the glasses with something not too interesting inside it, stuff that didn't smell very good to my young nose. But inside the cupboards of the sideboard - the smell was something else! That was where my nana kept tea and sugar, and spices as well. I used to have a little fold up chair that I sat on in this room and I loved to sit by the sideboard and crack the door open and just smell the combination of things inside. I don't know what kind of wood the sideboard was made of, but the combination of the smell of the wood with decades of tea and spice storage built up inside is one of those things that I remember and treasure.

Even when I go back there as an adult, one of the first things I do when I go to my Nana's house is go into the back living room and crack open the doors of the sideboard to inhale deeply that wonderful scent of tea and sugar and spices. I don't know how old the sideboard is. I know it wasn't new when my Nana got it. I think, if I remember rightly, that it belonged to a family friend, old Mrs Keogh, (pronounced "Keef" - there's no accounting for that Irish spelling!) who lived down the lane from some of my Nana's family back in Ireland. Through one means or another it came to my Nana and is still with her today. I don't really like to think about it too much, and I don't know much about trans-Atlantic shipping but someday I hope that I will be able to bring that sideboard here. Hopefully my own kids will be able to smell the smells in that sideboard, and fall in love with it too. And someday maybe they'll be bringing their own children to visit and they too will sneak into a room at nana's house to crack open the doors of the sideboard and inhale the scents of tea and sugar and spices and create warm memories of their own.

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