Thursday, July 28, 2005

Olfactory Prompting

They say that smell is one of the best memory triggers there is. If this is true, then it is because of a smell that I behaved the way I did on the way home. Last night I walked home barefoot. (Well, at least I did part of the way. )

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may have seen my March 19th entry titled "Walking to Work." The entry had a link to pictures of the path I take to work. The path runs through a bog and crossing the bog brought to mind my family's summer trips to Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest, back in my home state of Florida. Let me explain...

Juniper Springs, Florida

At first it was nothing much, a vague aroma that smelled like forest anywhere I have ever been; a moldy, musty smell that collects at the base of wet trees everywhere. As I approached the middle of the bog it struck me that this was more-or-less the exact smell that we ran through each summer as my brothers, sister and I were camping in the woods of the Ocala National Forest.

We used to play hide-and-seek on the trails and in the palmetto groves of the campground. We'd dip into the shallow springs that dotted almost the entire area; splashing each other with the cold, clear water. It always seemed to be raining in the summers when we stayed at the Juniper Springs Campground.

Dad would pull the camper trailer up to the peek in the picnic pavilion so that the entire structure was like a huge portico built onto our small house in the wood. Mom would set-up the housekeeping and once all the camping stuff was set-up and the dog had been fed it was time to get into our bathing suits and play in the rain and the springs.

I guess I do remember it not raining from time to time, but it seemed that we would stay wet (either because it was raining, we were swimming, or just because it was so hot we'd sweat like there was no tomorrow) the entire time we were there. Mary, Denis, Chip and I would spend as much time as possible at the big spring, diving off the rock on the East end of the hole seeing who could go all the way to the bottom, bringing-up sand from the boil as proof.

All of this was running through my head as I walked, the skies of southern England dripping all around me. As I crossed the Thames, I saw some children playing in the puddles along the Thames Walk path. They were oblivious to the gloom of the evening as they padded across one of the deeper ruts in the pavement; the water coming to mid-shin on the smallest of the three. Their parents urged them to quit playing in the puddles and come along.

I guess it was the instance that if they dawdled a stranger may come and take them that made-up my mind for me. The parents (Elder sisters? Cousins? Aunts? Who knows!) were telling the children that if they didn't come along, some stranger may come and take them as I approached. I could hear them saying this as they cast glances my way; the implications, I guess, was that I would take them if they stayed where they were.

As I rounded the corner from the bridge onto the path, I kicked-off the loafers I was wearing, and pealed off my socks. Carrying my shoes, I walked right through the deepest and widest part of the puddle. I made sure to put my food down with more force than was absolutely necessary as I past the littlest of them thus sending little ripples up to his knee. The children laughed and pointed as I passed. My job here was done. I made a bee-line back to the Lion Gate where I changed into some dry clothing and sandals and headed across to The Kings Arms.

Take time to enjoy the little pleasures today! Splash a kid in a rain puddle.

Don Bergquist - 28-July-2005 - Hampton Court, United Kingdom

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