Excerpt from “Easter and Politics,” chapter 24 in Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl
Two doors led into Grandma Longenecker’s kitchen. On this particular Sunday, we aimed for her back door. After Daddy parked our car alongside the back porch, we scrambled out, bounded up the steps, and burst through the back door to Grandma’s kitchen. My sisters and I wore our straw, beribboned Easter hats and pastel wool spring coats. I was not a church member yet; mine was tweedy pink with teal flecks.
The older folks from Grandma Longenecker’s side of the family would come in the side door under the verandah overhang, a parade of Martins, relatives from my dad’s side of the family, his mother’s kin, laughing and jabbering in anticipation of a ham dinner around Grandma’s stretched-out table that followed the curve of the bay window at one end of her kitchen facing the garden. Usually one of my great-aunts, Mattie or Bertha, walked in with a clay pot of hyacinths. I especially liked the hot pink and lavender clustered blooms, their spicy-sweet, oily-green fragrance combining with ham aroma scenting the air. Even now, when I walk by a hyacinth display in a shop, the intoxicating scent aroma takes me straight back to Easters of my youth in the 1950s.
Feeling Rich, in Touch with our Senses, another blog post on our marvelous sense of smell, written in my first year blogging. 2013.
Treat yourself or a loved one to another gift for the senses this Mother’s Day: My Memoir: Mennonite Daughter
Find my Memoir Here
What scents take you back to a happy spot in your childhood? To another pleasant memory?
Your favorite spring bloom?
Good morning, Marian! I know how you love hyacinths! Thank you for sharing your childhood memories.
That video is so cute!
My love of coffee goes back to the scent of it in our kitchen every morning. And you know I love daffodils. 😊
I can picture this: Fresh coffee, fresh daffodils, your computer and kitty cat nearby. It’s probably dark outside; you are such an early riser. Thank you, Merril! 😀
You’re very welcome, Marian. No daffodils or spring flowers in the house though–they’re poisonous to cats. We did buy some sunflowers though for Passover. 🌻
I didn’t have to host — invited to my daughter’s mother-in-law’s house for Easter dinner, and we also enjoyed a Friday evening pre-Easter dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. I felt really “taken care of.” But, I wanted our house to smell like glazed ham too–and with ham going for $.79 a pound this Easter, it was definitely the cheapest meat in the grocery store. So I baked a ham on Saturday and we’re enjoying it (a lot of meals) and freezing much for future quickie menus.
I do love the smell of hyacinths but haven’t been able to grow them much–not sure why they don’t flourish for me. But I never considered it spicy. ?? A definitely strong lovely scent though!
We had leftover ham too after giving some away, but had enough to freeze. I remember after our daughter took over hosting Thanksgiving I baked a turkey just to have the scent in our kitchen which spread throughout the house!
Even though you can’t grow hyacinths, I know your garden grows with other lovely blooms. Thanks for always appearing in this space on Wednesdays. . . so appreciated, Melodie. 😀
Have been planting hyacinths and daffodil bulbs all over our place here in upstate NY. Every year 100+ bulbs…
Wow, that’s impressive! I wonder it you have posted some of these blooms on Facebook. Upstate NY would be the perfect place for germinating bulbs; it’s certainly cold enough. Thanks for commenting, Jack! 😀
The scent of fresh baking always takes me back to Mom’s house. My favourite flowers are tulips that, alas, have no discernible scent. The excerpt is perfect!
You must especially enjoyed writing Amanda in Holland where tulips abound. I like tulips too because I imagine their “cups” hold sunshine. Thanks, Darlene! 😀
I had plenty of ham this Easter! 😁 And at church, the orchestra played wonderful music by Bach: I found a video of one of the pieces played (though this is not from the church I attended): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa3xvXXV_z0
Marian, as usual your blog post reminds me so much of you–colorful and vibrant. That is so wonderful!
Great: I’m glad you had food for body and soul this Easter. Thanks for sharing the Bach piece. I enjoyed the entire thing. Thanks, L. Marie, for sharing. I’m glad you enjoy my posts, even the short ones – ha! 😀
Now that you mention it, my mother always had hyacinths at Easter. I’d forgotten about that! That video is so cool! Is there a backstory?
I’m glad this post sparked a memory for you.
About the video: Cliff adapted an “app” and inserted my book cover. I don’t know how he did it, but I’m pleased you enjoyed it, Liz. Thanks! 😀
You’re welcome, Marian!
Marian — That was such a cute video! I’ve always loved the taste and smell of burnt toast.
I like the smell of toast, done just right. You mention burnt toast and I wonder whether there is a pleasant memory associated with it. Maybe from your grandmother?
Thanks, Laurie! 😀
It’s possible, but I don’t really know.
The video is so lovely Marian as is your memory of hyacinth and it’s fragrance. There are many scents of flowers and bulbs that I like but one that always stands out for me is the scent of fynbos (particular to South Africa, and more particularly to the western cape) – small belt of natural shrubland or heathland vegetation. It is quite a unique scent, delicate, quite faint at times.
Fynbos is a new botanical term to me, so of course I had to look it up. Wikipedia did a good job of satisfying my curiosity and even showed photos of its thriving in Cape Town: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fynbos#:~:text=Fynbos%20(%2F%CB%88fe%C9%AAn,Mediterranean%20climate%20and%20rainy%20winters.
One of the many benefits of blogging is learning new things. Thanks, Susan! 😀
I love the scent if hyacinth and petunias. I miss living in a house because I can’t have my walk of flowers and my clay pots of my flower arrangements. The good thing that I do have are the wonderful scents of food cooking. Oh how i love to have food scents when the children and friends walk in. It just makes a house feel like a home. How i remember the Longenecker ham loaf. Wonderful memories.
My mother loved cooking as much as you did, and still do. For mom, kitchen was her happy place, and I think you feel the same way. I do agree, cooking smells do make a house feel like home, being nourished!. Thanks, Gloria! 😀
We have an Easter lily in our living room with seven blooms! It gives off an incredible scent. Not everyone’s favorite, but I love it. And I can’t wait for the hyacinths to bloom in the yard. Love that beautiful picture you posted, the purple and the orange together. We still have snow here in Manitoba!
I love lilies too, their scent and their trumpets, which I think proclaim peace. Under that blanket of snow, you’ll find blooms, I hope sooner than later. Purple and orange seem to go together. I’m glad you noticed, Elfrieda. Thank you ! 😀
I agree with you about smells being able to take you back years and to certain places and I can picture you perfectly sitting at the family table enjoying the sweet fragrance of hyacinths, Marian.
I feel the same about figs trees, which smell can take me straight back to Alicante, Spain, where I was born. My mum used to take us to a play park in the shade of large fig trees and I only need to catch a whiff of that beautiful scent to return back there. We left Alicante when I was 5 years old!!!
Fragrance lingers, which your story proves. We have a fig tree (more like a bush) which is barely surviving. Later on this spring, I’ll check for blooms, and maybe detect a scent. Come to think of it, my cousin who visited California a few months ago, brought back figs and made jam. If I open a jar he gave me, I’ll think of the scene and your comment here. Thanks, Fatima!
HI Marian, a lovely extract and I really enjoyed the video.
The video is just for fun. My husband likes to experiment with new visuals and I don’t mind because I’m clueless with mini-animations. Thanks for the nod here, Robbie, busy lady that you are! 😀
You’ve appealed to the sense of smell with this one, Marian. I think too often authors overlook opportunities here.
Yes, we see, hear, touch, but smell comes in and out of our consciousness. Thanks for the observation, which I hadn’t thought of before, Pete. 😀
Lilacs in the spring… Oh, so lovely! Cookies baking during the holidays. Little Sis and I helped with cutting and decorating thse yummy treats. A dozen hung on our Christmas tree and boxes given as gifts during Christmas season.
You are so kind to list the memories this post evoked. That’s what good writers do, and you are one of the best, Bette. Thank you! 😀
Cinnamon, definitely cinnamon, in my Grandma’s country kitchen. Cinnamon with apples, with peaches, with sweet rolls, and so much more. Since I’m a food head, I don’t remember the smell of flowers until I was older. Thank you for awakening sweet memories.
I’m glad this post awakened sweet memories of food in Grandma’s country kitchen. Tis morning I sprinkled cinnamon onto a batch of oatmeal. (I always make enough for leftovers.) And then for lunch, some cinnamon on applesauce. It’s nutritious, of course, but it tastes soooo good. Thanks for sharing here once again, Elaine! ;-D
Oh those are great memories. I love hyacinths. I planted bulbs about 8 years ago and they have multiplied many times since then. They smell so great – I can imagine that aroma mixed in with ham in the oven. Also – how what a clever video!
Bulbs don’t do well in Florida. I’m glad yours multiply. Ham and hyacinth aroma sound very sensory to me. Thanks for the idea, Barbara! 😀
Our home has been filled with the aroma of hyacinth over the past month. I love it! Homemade brownies baking with forever remind me of my mother baking on snow days. Great video!
You have great memories of your mama, and though there are changes, she is still with you. Brownies and hyacinths sound like a good combo.
The video is Cliff’s offering. I’m not so techno savvy, but glad you enjoyed it, Jill! 😀
At this moment, the hyacinths are just beginning to take shape in our spring weather. No blossoms yet. And I have to confess to not knowing how they smell! They have always been an outdoor plant for me. But you can bet that just as soon as those beautiful flowers appear this year, I will be bending down to breathe in the scent.
Arlene, your olfactory glands will quiver with delight as you inhale the hibiscus scent. You have a lot to look forward to with an Ottawa spring just around the corner. 😀
Oh ! Marian you’ve hit the spot , I adore hyacinths. Their intricate waxy flowers and their perfume exquisite. 🤔
They were my Mums favourite, especially the pale blue. I would invariably buy her a pot for Mother’s Day and enjoy seeing her face light up , such fond memories .
I can remember the long corridor to our school hall had a pot of hyacinths in every window of every shade . The perfume sent me dizzy as young girl .
I must tell you this last memory. We had a wonderful neighbour next door to our old house in the Midlands she was an amazing gardener. One Christmas she presented us with a big pot of dirt with an instruction to keep it in the cool of the conservatory. Of course they were Hyacinths, the colour and perfume have stayed with me to this day . How did she know they were my favourite ? We always used to call her a Witch 😂 not in a derogatory way in a White Witch way .
So sorry I’ve not been answering your blog I’ve been sitting on a cloud somewhere dreaming 🤭I’m back with you now ❤️
Cherry, you go right ahead and sit on a cloud dreaming. It suits you, and thanks for turning this direction momentarily to share your wonderful stories today. Your neighbor was very generous. . . and intuitive, knowing somehow she had hit the spot with her gift of bulbs.
It’s so good to hear from you, Cherry. Thank you–and huge hugs! 😀
Hugs back my lovely 😊
When I smell lilacs I think of my childhood bedroom that had a bush of them growing outside my window. I was only in that room a few years, but it was pleasant.
And you never forget that aroma. Thanks for sharing your memory, Ally!
My Grandma L. had a trio of bushes parading up to the outhouse, a guess a touch of irony there, or maybe not. 😀
Definitely, smells take us back to another time and place. And loved your little promo video 🙂 x
I’m glad you enjoyed the promo video. Debby. As you know, after a book has been out a while, you have to get creative. 😀
Hi Marian. Last week I was outside doing a little weeding. As I bent over, I didn’t realize I had placed my head within an inch from the first bloom on our Magnolia tree. I breathed in that wonderful scent, confused at first about the source. Then I actually saw the bloom and stuck my nose fully into it. It was glorious. There was even a bee joining me!! 🙂
Oh, thanks for sharing this shimmering moment. I’m glad you didn’t get stung as you dove into the bloom.
I’ve read somewhere that smell is the most immediate of our senses and that it goes straight to our memory, bypassing the analytical/critical part of our brain. As always, thanks for sharing your memory in this space, Melanie. 😀