Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

A series of storms continues to pummel the Ottawa region here in Ontario. Someone I know in Quebec lost her greenhouse and is currently hunkering down in a berm house. (Three sides of it are underground, and the wind is still shaking it!). She reports that she has decided to move because she just can't take the extreme weather anymore, making her officially the first climate change migrant I'm acquainted with.

Here in Mississauga, the weather was cool and autumny with an occasional shower of rain and some wind, but nothing remotely worrisome. In fact, the air had a deliciousness about it, a cool scent, a clear light that made everything seem sharp-edged and brilliant. Something undefinable that reminded me of autumns of my childhood. Walking along College Street in Toronto on my way to the subway, I was suddenly seized with nostalgia for aspens changing to yellow, the cool air flowing down mountain canyons bringing the scent of damp rock. After-school daylight spent rollerskating on the back deck with Janice Gill. Roasting marshmallows over the backyard fire pit. Watching the sunset turn Mount Timpanogos salmon and crimson. Sitting under the pear tree in the front yard with my guitar until dusk grew so thick I couldn't see the strings anymore. The smooth surface of my desk that sounded hollow when I put pencil to paper. The joy of buying back-to-school zippered binders with section tabs and built-in pencil cases. Walking home from grade school in my winter coat and kicking the horse chestnuts fallen from the Andersons' tree. The fat lines on the off-white paper waiting for my careful cursive. Mom's pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, made with pumpkins from the garden. The magic of waking up to find frost on the window and crunchy leaves on the ground.

Certain scents or a certain quality of the air can send us spinning back forty years in the blink of an eye. I had such a great childhood, and so many of my happy memories are linked to autumn. For a brief moment today I wished so intensely to be that child again, to do it all over again and appreciate it more this time. To walk in my parents' door and smell that pumpkin cake baking.

Well, I'm not sure how I started out this post with tornadoes and ended up with cream cheese frosting...

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