You know, I've heard air described as "dripping" with fragrance, but until the last few days I don't think I have experienced it this way-- the weather down south has been amazing, honestly. Warm, not humid, clear-- until tonight, it hasn't been throat wrenching humid or dry, and tonight the atmosphere is packed with rain (though Alabama and Mississippi hogged the good stuff, I see on the news). The wind has been nicely stirring the air to keep us from the oh-so-dependable oppressive humidity, and my yard is blossoming honeysuckle and oak. Grass, trees, flowers-- you can smell it all in the close, green lushness of my back yard. It's like a symphony of fragrances, pulling at my memory like little fingers, reminding me of Peggy Lane and my little house in the back yard and my parents and my father's fire department pager, for some reason.
I remember the first time I tasted a Fresca. My mother was in her bed, reading a book before going to sleep and drinking an ice cold drink from a blue (was it blue? Maybe it was green) can. I don't know why I was back there, but I remember that the windows in their bedroom-- in our whole house-- were open and the sweet summer air was pouring through the windows. She only let me have a taste of the drink and I remember that it frizzied in my nose and it was sweet and tart and I liked it-- it was unlike anything I had ever tasted-- but I never asked for it again. I remember standing beside my parents' bed with the cold can in my hand and the breeze from the window and it makes me long for being a little girl and my mom and dad in the back room and my crazy little sleep-walking brother.
I was thinking today about the way my entire childhood seems to have been crammed full of Jesus. Jesus and the back yard. Most of my memories from childhood center around church and my parents' crazy new-Christian friends; hippies for Jesus, trying to clean up their lives, staying at church and talking about the Lord for hours while all of their children (all different ages) played in the grass in front of whatever building we were in. I see the trees in those yards, bent half with gorgeous leaves perfect for slapping against our palms, making loud snapping sounds. I see fences draped with vines of honeysuckle, pulling them to us and dragging them to the yard-- I always wanted vines of white ones, for some reason-- sitting in the cool grass, carefully pulling the stems out of the middle from the bottom, tipping it to our tongues to catch the tiny drop of sweet nectar there (why is there no honeysuckle juice drink?). We would chew on tiny "bananna" weeds, tangy and tart like the clover cows chewed, and we would drink water from the hose in the back yard, laced with that perfectly clean warmed rubber smell-- the water coming out hot as blazes at first, slowly turning so cold it made your head hurt.
How is it that I have all of those memories at once? How is it that all of those memories dance through my mind and leave that old tugging, longing, in my heart? I love the southland, love the white beauty of exploding crepe myrtles and country roses in the yard, and am so excited that this is the season for picnics and films on the lawn and lightning bugs and the joy of being alive for a reason.