At Home Abroad: Summer Scents Bring Sweet Memories
By Regina Costello
Basking in the summer heat though stunted with turbulent showers, I grab my brolly and head out the door with my wheaten. Turning the corner, I pass the flowering lilac bush and breathe deeply as the fragrance sweetens the air as I pass by.
It reminds me of the honey suckle growing outside our living room window in my childhood home in Salthill, Galway. The sweet scent perfumed the living room drifting in through the open windows. I remember sucking the honey from the petals, thinking nothing of it at the time, but today it brings back a sweet memory of a lazy summer with fragrant delights.
My terrier egging me on, we pick up the pace, but she stops to roll in the freshly cut grass. I take delight in her enjoyment of twirling over and over, burying her nose in the fresh loose grass sniffing excitedly. Satisfied with her game, she shakes her body vigorously to lose the blades of grass and debris from her body.
Admiring the well-cut lawns, I am reminded of cutting the grass in the home of my youth; this was a job that none of us minded doing. The yard was not big and not much effort was required. We enjoyed the sight of our handiwork as we roamed in and out of the house.
Summertime brings neighborhoods to life and the lives of kids are often unknown to parents during these months. I recall rambling the streets in our neighborhood in our home earlier on in my life in Wexford. We were gone for hours at a time, visiting friends in neighboring houses, kicking a ball around in the field across the street, walking to the local tennis clubs and spending full afternoons out and about.
Ice Cream 99
Summertime brings the ice cream truck to my street in my home abroad, and the music of Mister Softee makes me long for a rich creamy 99. What I would give for that sweet vanilla ice-cream, jagged with a Cadbury’s flake, speckled with sprinkles and gooey fudge sauce running down my fingers.
I can taste it and feel the ice-cream on my hand as I write. Mister Softee is good in a pinch. But nothing compares to the memory of the 99.
The farmers market’s abundant with summer produce remind me of my dad’s garden coming to life after a busy spring of planting. He was an avid gardener and sowed different crops each year, including mustard and gooseberry bushes in addition to the staples of rhubarb, carrots and potatoes.
He took pride reaping the harvest and I think my mother enjoyed cooking meals and making desserts from garden to table. Today I eagerly grab a bunch of rhubarb stalks during the short season and continue to bake pies as a tribute to her, memories of summer and to share a little of my parents and my upbringing with my kids. I coax them to eat the pie by adding a handful of sugar and a few ounces of chopped strawberries. Otherwise, I don’t think they would even sample it!
Visiting my Dublin friend who lives on the coast of Lake Erie, we walk the strand and as I stand by the shore, I imagine I am on the shores of Galway Bay in Salthill. I close my eyes, pretend to inhale salty air is from the wild Atlantic Ocean and I lick my lips, imagining I am tasting the salt from the ocean. I open my eyes and pretend that the Burren mountains of County Clare are hidden in the horizon along with the Aran Islands to the West.
Memories increase with age and bestow upon us a better understanding of life. They, along with experience, grant us a better appreciation of the efforts of parents and others who guide us and participate in the adventure of our life. I look forward to reminiscing about memories with my family and friends on my next trip to the old sod and creating new memories that I know will provide solace when I return again to my home abroad.
*Regina is a postgraduate from the National University of Ireland Dublin – School of Library and Information Science, a former Curator with the Irish American Archives Society and former Executive Director of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument Commission. Currently working as a library professional at the Buckeye branch of the Medina Public Library District, she is Director on the Boards of the Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland and The Irish American Charitable Foundation. She resides in the Greater Cleveland area with her husband, two spirited teenagers and beloved wheaten terrier. Regina would love to hear from you and can be reached at rc*******@am*******.net.