Driving and Biking in the Big City

Quest for a childhood memory

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ButtercupToday, I took my nose on a quest for a childhood memory. I wanted to find a buttercup, growing in the wild, to complete my earlier column about Texas wildflowers. I knew the smell would find me long before the flower did. So my hounds and I went for a long walk and found the photo that accompanies this column.

I’ve read often than smell is the sense that evokes the strongest, longest memory, and I am a true example of this. That’s why I think my bike rides conjure memories of my childhood. I fly down the greenbelt and am struck by a distant smell. Suddenly I’m running with the neighborhood gang, flying a kite, picking dewberries, looking for snakes, tadpoles or lightning bugs. Like most Texas kids of a certain age, I was always outdoors, seldom supervised and easily entranced by nature.

When I took the dogs for a walk today, it was just before a rain shower, another fond remembrance from my Texas childhood. A kid from my tropical home on the Texas Gulf Coast, near Louisiana, loved and longed for a rain shower – most any time of year. I can’t remember ever coming home simply because it was raining.

We’d stretch out in the grass – and, yes, we could lie in the grass when I was a kid. The red ants had not traveled so far north as yet. And yes, we’d talk about the shapes of the clouds; I saw mostly mystical scary creatures like dragons, sea serpents and King Kong. We’d watch thunderclouds gather, daring each other to stay longer and longer and get more and more wet. I can remember biking in the rain when the drops felt like pin pricks on my skin, still not heading for home.

So, today, I took Patsy and Tucker out for a walk, just before the rain and followed my nose. The smell of a buttercup is pretty distinct in my mind. Clean, fresh, not so sweet as a honeysuckle or wisteria. I wasn’t looking when I smelled it and must have passed a patch at the side of a fence. We turned around and went back for a picture. I had to beat back the underbrush and again was reminded of my girlhood when we often created our own paths through thick and thin.

The kid game I remembered is a bit different now that I’ve had a chance to think about it. We would pick a buttercup and put it to someone’s chin. If the glow from the flower reflected on their face, then we’d say they liked butter.  Ha! Who cares. And, in those days, who didn’t love butter. If it didn’t work and we didn’t see a reflection, we’d smash the flower into their face, laugh and run. In fact, most of our games ended that same way. So perhaps this was just a game from my


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

April 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

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