Pages

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Literary Homecoming.

Kate wrote about her favorite smell in this post. Like me, Kate is from Arizona, although she still lives there today, and I am now out here in Maryland.

Her favorite smell is chlorine, which makes sense because that is the smell of an Arizona childhood. Anybody who grew up in Arizona spent a significant amount of time in a pool. That's just the way it worked.

As she wrote about pruned fingers and eating  soggy sandwiches on the pool deck, I felt the unmistakable longing for home.

People from Arizona don't have a lot of literary models. The only author I can think of that wrote about Arizona is Barbara Kingsolver, and even she up and moved to Virginia.

An Arizona kid watches Christmas programming and feels like she's missed the punchline to a joke. What's a White Christmas? What are these snow days of which you speak?

Garrison Keillor writes about Minnesota and Ms. Moon writes about Northern Florida, and  I try on those worlds. They fit nicely, and I could grow to love them. I love the Maryland I'm presently wearing.

But nothing, nothing, feels as comfortable to me as a patch of Arizona sunshine, the sky as wide as the world, and yes, that smell of chlorine.

So, thank you, Kate, for taking me home today. Thank you for understanding my roots.

There are very few people who write about Arizona, so when you find one, it's like a literary homecoming.

20 comments:

clearness said...

One of my favorite smells is clean bleach...........Like when you bleach a bathroom that is already clean and then rinse the bleach out and there is that smell.....Very very similar to chlorine.

I also love the smell of vanilla. Pure vanilla extract......so sweet and pure......

Then there is the smell of a fresh rain.....love a good spring rain that refreshes everything.

I also love the smell of honeysuckle. Some neighbors when I was growing up had almost a half acre of the stuff growing wild all over the place and the entire neighborhood would smell of honeysuckle.........loved that smell

Robin said...

Great great post...ahhh the power of scent.....to me, on Long Island, it is the salty air in the spring and summer, and the smell of the leaves on the trees and the burning leaves in the fall......! I can smell a hint of the salty air as I sit here now... Nancy I bet you have a whole new world of scents in Maryland...I bet you can also smell the salty air there..its beautiful in Maryland as well as Arizona, just so different...EnJoY yOuR DaY..!

Amie said...

I am living in Arizona now and you are right about the sky. I have never seen anything more dramatic than the Arizona sky. And the pool is the world in the summer. I am not sure how long I will be living here but I have no complaints. I found peace and quiet here.

LB said...

The only reason there are so many books written about the South is because there are soooo many whacko stories to tell. Every person born and raised south of the Mason-Dixon has some shady areas in her family tree.

I've never been to Arizona, but I've been to New Mexico. I thought it was beautiful out there! I can certainly see why you miss it.

blueviolet said...

You make me pine for a sky I've never seen!

Ms. Moon said...

Sense of place is one of the most human of human emotions. I think.

Coby said...

I haven't read Kate's post yet - you know, having 3 kids and all! - but as soon as you mentioned the smell of chlorine, pruny fingers, soggy sandwiches, I immediately felt a longing for the Arizona summers of my childhood, and my teen years spent lifeguarding, when I'd get tan lines that lasted all year long.

I'd throw in the smell of hot wet cool-deck and bomb pops. Ahhhhh...

When did I become my Mom said...

I feel u hon. :-)

Bekah said...

I have lived in Ohio all my life. Thanks for prompting me to remember the scents of my childhood- hay bales in the barn, wild onions in the field, and damp moss back in the woods. Hmm, I smell a blog post of my own coming on!

Daffy said...

As always, insightful, introspective and spot on! I love visiting your blog.

Cat said...

That's how I feel when I read about DC. I grew up in Florida and live in Alabama now, and I love the southern culture, but even though I only spent 3 years in DC it feels like home to me.

sd said...

Great post, Nancy... don't forget the smell of Coppertone!

I believe Paula Gunn Allen's "The Woman Who Owned The Shadows" was set in northern AZ. Also, if you're into mysteries, J.A. Jance's novels are set in Arizona... some in Bisbee, even!

Unknown Mami said...

I've only been to Arizona once and I will never forget the colors I saw in the sky. I've never seen them anywhere else.

Marla said...

Wonderful post! My dad was born in Douglas. We love Winslow and Flagstaf. Great state!

Sonya said...

I grew up and lived in Oregon until I moved here..the scent that takes me back is the first cut grass of the season...wherever I am and smell that, Im instantly back to when I was a kid running around the neighborhood with friends.

Adoption of Jane said...

Awww i love those lil reminders of home!

Caution Flag said...

When my boys walked out of the house this morning they were thrilled to smell mud. "Now this smells like Michigan!" one said. I guess there could be worse things to make him think of home...

mama-face said...

Ha. I love the smell of bleach. So much so that I could easily poison myself. And vinegar. Good idea for a post and good job doing so.

(I think that Wallace Stegner may have written about Arizona. i know he did a lot of writing about a lot of western states).

Corrie Howe said...

Thank you too. I didn't live in Arizona long. But I did visit a number of times over the years as my grandparents lived in Scottsdale. I love the rock gardens, the way the sun melts into an array of colors as it sets over the dessert. I love red rocks structures of Sedona. I love the sound of those bugs in the evening air. (You know the ones which are noisy, and crunch when you lean up against the trees.)

4 Lettre Words said...

My childhood smell is honeysuckle. Ahhh...the memories...