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Sunday, May 31, 2020
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First Cutting


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     A good friend of mine reminded me the other day about the strong memories often evoked by the sense of smell. For example, whenever I smell onions and peppers cooking together, the savory aroma takes me back to the state fair midway and those wonderful smells that come from the sausage and hotdog vendors hawking their products from a booth next to the funnel cake stand. And when I smell the almond fragrance that permeates our kitchen when my wife is making an angel food cake, it takes me back many years to my grandmother's aroma-filled kitchen. 

   This past week, I experienced another fragrance that took me back to my childhood and a fond memory of a summer evening many years ago. The fragrance was the smell of newly mown hay coming from a pasture along Hempridge Road not very far from our farm on Woodlawn Road. It was just after sunset on one of those cool dry evenings as I was driving my pick up truck home with the windows rolled down.  

     It is a scent that is difficult to describe. But when the hay contains red clover, it has a recognizable sweet fragrance that I have smelled many times. The scent took me back to when I was a pre-teen and spent the night at my uncle's house. The bedroom I slept in was upstairs in an old log cabin structure. Of course there was no air conditioning. I recall that the feather bed on which I slept had been pushed over near a small window which opened out allowing the entire opening to become a vent for the stuffy heat in the room.  I also remember having difficulty falling asleep because of the heat, but sometime during the night, I awakened and realized that the heat had dissipated and a cool breeze redolent with the fragrance of fresh-cut hay was drifting in the window.

     My drive past the hay field took me back to that night in the feather bed all those years ago.  That fragrance is a landmark in my memories, marking a moment of time in my youth filled with a sense of family, rest and security. 

     It also reminded me that for those of us who have livestock, cutting hay, often a family endeavor, prepares us for the cold winter weather ahead. When the hay field is cut, the hay is baled and the job is done, we feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment as we scan those manicured pastures with all of the tall grasses now baled up as feed for our livestock, and we can rest in the security of our preparation for the winter months ahead.  Family, rest, security...the theme runs through the decades from childhood to today whenever I smell fresh-cut hay.

     I am thankful for my ability to smell sweet fragrances. Just this morning, I encountered one of my gardenia bushes with a fresh blossom that gave off an aroma that reminded me of my grandmother's dusting powder.

     Sweet fragrances! The ability to smell must be one of the wonders of our lives.