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Monday, May 30, 2011

Sensory recall

Isn't it funny how a smell or a color or another bit of sensory input can transport us back to an earlier place and time?

I might have mentioned that our air conditioner is on the fritz. As in completely kaput and in need of replacement. It's been that way for a couple of weeks. Thankfully, relief in the form of a new unit is on its way later this week. Until then, however, we're rocking the open windows and fans -- ceiling fans, box fans, oscillating fans.

With temps in the 90s and humidity high, the sensation of hot, muggy air takes me back to my grandparents' house when I was growing up. Grandma and Grandpa didn't have air conditioning, so summer days and nights were spent with the windows open and fans blowing.

The adults would often head to the covered back porch to sit and visit. My favorite place to retreat to was my Aunt Molly's room. It was at the end of the hall, just past the holy water font and the bathroom with the peachy pink tile. Molly's room was painted lavender and had two or three rectangular windows positioned on the wall facing the backyard. The windows tilted outward, meaning any breeze would have to maneuver its way underneath the open panes before it could reach me.

I would lie down on the bed -- it was always made -- with the lights off. The gray box fan on the floor would be aimed toward me. I would lie perfectly still, avoiding any movement so as not to generate more body heat, and listen to the grown ups' conversation on the back porch just outside the window.

There was something peaceful about that hot, muggy quiet. The hum of the fan. The chatter of the outside world -- people talking, screen doors slamming shut, leaves rustling with the occasional breeze. The stillness of my own body.

It's a happy memory for me, a memory that is a silver lining 30 years later, when I'm sitting in my own house, wishing for air conditioning. 


Ellen aka Ellie said...

Love this.

Unknown said...

AWESOME post! I have some of the same memories of escaping the heat. Thanks for the smile and trip down beautiful memory lane!

Rachel said...

Loving the whole feel of this childhood memory. Just wow.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Great post!

We lived in an apartment and had a tiny little wall unit air conditioner that didn't do much at all. Box fans were a normal sound of summer. I remember my mom would have one pointing out of a window to suck the hot air out. When my mom and dad got married and we moved to Ohio, we always had air conditioning from then on. A friend I would go visit had a unit that cooled just the living room and I remember the hot hot hot bedrooms upstairs and trying to spend as much time in the living room as possible- until we would get too annoying for her mom and get kicked out. Then we found some coolness in the basement- or would crash the neighbor's above ground pool!

Rebecca said...

Amy--I can totally relate. In fact, we have a conference room at work that smells EXACTLY like the basement Chapter room at the DG house--kind of musty/sweet without being offensive. Every time I walk by there, I just smile and think of those Wednesday night meetings. :)

Anonymous said...

Got a lot of memories that are brought on by smell and taste. Those memories of listening to the adults talking while being still, though, are the best. There was something so comforting in knowing that they were there, that I was listening to something that I wasn't "supposed" to hear, and yet I was all by myself in another room, a real "grown up" myself. Thanks for bringing back those memories!