As I sit here and gaze out of my front window, I can see several containers full of bluebells. They are a little late this year, due to the cold spring that we have had, but definitely better late than never. I just love bluebells. I love their colour and their simplicity. Their delicate heads, rising above a carpet of shining, emerald green. I also love bluebells because they remind me of home. The first time I left home and moved down to Exeter to do my first degree, one of the things that I missed the most were the bluebell woods back home. That carpet of bright blue, beneath the brilliant green of freshly opened beech leaves, so new, so vibrant, the sunlight shinning through the leafy canopy, dappling the rippling sea of bluebells beneath. To this day, every time I see a bluebell, I think of home and I wish I could be transported to those bluebell woods........
Recently, in her blog, English Mum asked her readers what made them happy. I immediately thought of my cats - burying my head in their warm, soft fur, listening to the most relaxing sound in the world - a cat purring. Just thinking about them makes me smile. I also thought of daffodils, their cheery yellow heads, bobbing in the wind, reminding us all that Winter is on its way out and Spring is just around the corner - really, it is, you just have to be patient. Daffodils also remind me of home. More specifically, they remind me of my Granddad, who had the most wonderful garden in the world. Last night, I couldn't sleep. This is what happens of you drink too much water before going to bed. It is all very well going on and on about staying hydrated, but if that means you have to get up five times during the night.......I guess I have to choose between being dehydrated or sleep deprived, and after last night, sleep wins out over hydration every time! Still, it did give me lots of time to let my mind wander, skipping back to the past and meandering through the scents and sounds of my childhood. I started to think of all the things that made me happy now and realised that many of them make me happy because they remind of my childhood. Let's look at a few examples:
Some of the smells that make me yearn for the past:
You will notice how many of these are flowers that remind me of either my garden or my granddad's garden as I was growing up. There are many more, and whenever I hit the garden centre, my choice of flowers nearly always reflects the gardens of my past - dog daisies and giant red poppies, lupines and hollyhocks, buddleia and delphiniums and pansies, we mustn't forget pansies - my Dad was smitten with pansies........... Oh for a large garden that I could fill with flowers. Unfortunately, we have a garden the size of a postage stamp and Mr. DBM has his own ideas about gardens and their uses. If he had his way, it would be full of lettuces and spinach, strawberries and raspberries, onions and garlic. Hang on a minute - it is! It is quite amazing how many vegetables you can fit into one tiny garden. Not that I am against growing vegetables - I think that it is a great idea and we should all do it, but I do have to draw the line somewhere. Right now, that line is drawn at chickens living in the garage and a sheep to keep the grass short. Again, great idea, but we really do need a bit more space before I can allow the introduction of farm animals to our urban Eden.
While most of my strongest memories are triggered by scent, there are also certain sounds that have a similar effect. I have been to Australia several times now, and I always look forward to hearing the galahs. I know, they are not the prettiest, or the smartest and definitely not the most melodious of birds, but their song is just so Australia. As is the kookaburra. How can anyone hear that bird without smiling and starting to laugh? One of the most prominent sounds of my childhood is the sound of a cricket bat hitting a ball. Mostly, this is a good memory, although having two brothers knocking in cricket bats could potential drive you nuts pretty quickly. Then there is music - ah, now that is a whole new post, but I will mention one sound bite of my past that starts the memory juices flowing - the theme tune of Grandstand. Sitting on the floor of my grandparent's living room, with a small stool across my legs, eating a boiled egg with soldiers..........I still have that stool. I finally persuaded Mum that it would be OK to give it to me and let me bring it to Canada.
All of these memories are happy memories of a wonderful, carefree childhood. A while ago, I wrote about how luck had little to do with the life Mr. DBM and I had made for ourselves (Special Offer of the Day). However, I am very willing to admit that the halcyon days of my childhood were due to luck - the luck of having a family full of love and laughter. We didn't have a lot of money, we didn't have a lot of material things, but we did have a lot of fun and many a hectic holiday, chaotic family gathering or frenzied family outing and we are now very lucky to have a lot of fond memories of our past. These memories now shape my present and my future. Perhaps only in small ways, such as the flowers that I chose for my gardens, but they are always there, influencing how I live my life today.