I Smell Sweet SavoursSunday, May 26, 2013
|Rosa 'Splendens' May 26, 2013|
The smell of sweet peas in our Coghlan garden, the smell of Mercedes’s cheese soufflé baking in the oven, the smell, most unfishy, Mercedes’s breaded pejerey on Fridays, of my father’s whisky and Player’s Navy Cut cigarettes, the smell of Chanel No 5 of my mother, the smell of a Buenos Aires pizzeria, of the smell of the chrome bars in a Buenos Aires colectivo (the number 60), of the paper ticket of colectivo number 60, the smell of a mate cebado, the smell of my father’s empty mate gourd, the electrical smell of tram number 35 on the way to Abuelita’s flat downtown, the smell of Abuelita’s and my strawberry ice cream soda at the Roxy after seeing a Randolph Scott Western on Avenida Lavalle, the smell of pastillas Volpi gusto de mandarina, the smell of the rain that came with the pampero after a stifling summer week, the smell of the Noma artificial snow spray we used on our Christmas trees in plus 40 degree when I opened my presents after misa de gallo, the smell of the lions in the Buenos Aires zoo, the smell of the kerosene stove to heat our house in the winter and of the water and cedrón boiling in a pan on it, the smell of the train on the way to Retiro, the electrical smell (rusting brake linings and stale urine) of the Buenos Aires subte, the smell of urine at the River Plate Stadium, the sweet smell of ice cold Vascolet, chocolate milk at one of those futbol games, the smell of tortillas in a tortillería in Atizapán de Zaragosa, the smell of just baked bolillos in the panadería around the corner, the smell of the carrot juice in the juice bar at Guillermo Shakespeare and Mariscal Lafayette, of the smell and crunch of partially dissolved Milo in my milk, of the once obnoxious smell of cinnamon in Mexican chocolate, the smell of the Flecha Roja Toluca Rocket bus to the University of the Americas, which was of unwashed bodies living in dirt floor houses, of the wood fires they used, of chickens and turkeys in the overhead bins, and of the raw unfiltered diesel of the Cummins engines, the smell of bunker oil in my Victory Ship, Rio Aguapey, of my daily entrecote and pure sea air, the smell of cajeta envinada and my longing for plain Argentine dulce de leche, the inescapable smell of Korean issue powdered eggs which ketchup could not overwhelm in my boarding school in Austin, the smell of old metal of my alto saxophone lent to me by Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C., the now obnoxious scent of Old Spice and Top Brass hair cream, of Vitalis, the smell of over boiled okra, and par boiled steaks in our cafeteria, the smell of the frogs we dissected alive, the smell of a real Texas steak across the street on Congress Avenue accompanied by Bill Black’s Combo, the smell of my first girl Judy Reyes that conjured the underwear I could sometimes spy when she jumped (she was a cheerleader), the pungent and earthy smell of Brother Francis’s black habit which may have been first worn before I was born, the smell of the first spoonful of peach flavoured yoghurt La Vascongada I savoured when I was 20, the smell of my winter blues after a week full of Buenos Aires rain, the smell of Rosemary the first time I dared to kiss her, the smell of the chicken cooked, with Campbell’s sopa de champignon in our Sunbeam electric frypan in our flat on Calle Estrasburgo, the smell of Ale’s Johnson & Johnson talcum powder, the smell of mother’s milk in our Calle Herodoto bed, the fragrance of Tia Fermina’s enzaimadas baking in her Puerto de Angostura home in Mexico City, the smell of brine, port sewer and tropical humidity when Rosemary and I would wake up on a Saturday morning at my mother’s house in Veracruz, the pungent smell of vegetation as our VW suddenly descended from Mexico City to Orizaba, Veracruz, the smell of brine, port sewer and tropical humidity watching the Águila de Veracruz play beisbol, the smell of Spaniards watching the corrida de toros at the Plaza de Toros on Insurgentes, the smell of Basques at the Frontón, the smell, ever so good, of turkey soup at El Rey del Pavo on Gante, the smell of centuries inside la Catedral Metropolitana, the smell of stale mescal outside cantinas, the smell of the first Manila mango I ever tried and how Vancouver bought mangoes remind me of my mother’s Veracruz, the smell of conifers in Vancouver, not much different from the many pines and junipers of Mexico, the smell of urine on Wreck Beach after a month’s drought, the smell of the Keg’s Burnaby Salad Bar with all those synthetic bacon bits, the smell of rain when I land at the Vancouver Airport, the smell of french-fries in malls, the killer scent of the Earl Grey Tea I purchase at the Granville Island Tea Company, the smell of Kodak Rapid Fixer in a tray in my darkroom, the smell of the paper backing of 120 film, the smell of the metal when I open my Nikon FM-2, the smell of ozone when I fire my Dynalite flash, the sweet smell of my abuelita's "camphor babies" purchased in Durban in the mid 30s, the smell of my mother's red shawl stored in a trunck of Olinalá wood from the state of Guerrero, the smell of my ready-to-bake Save-On scissor rolls baking for breakfast and of the brown sugar and sliced bananas that Rosemary prefers, of her decaf brewing and the not too pleasant smell when I open Plata and Casi-Casi’s Fancy Feast grilled tuna, the smell of the furnace, just turned on when it suddenly gets cold in our Vancouver spring, the un-Teutonic smell, a pleasant smell of our Malibu, the smell of the paper and ink of my breakfast NY Times, the smell of Rosemary when she eases herself into our bed after a hot bath, the smell of my mother when I take out her Chinese blue silk coat, the smell I imagine of my father’s whiskey, Player’s Navy Cut Cigarettes and his tweed jacket, all those smells I remember or imagine which is the same thing.
The smell of myrrh, of the Myrrh Rose, Rosa ‘Splendens’ that I smelled today, an indescribable scent not unlike my favourite pipe tobacco mixture, Bell’s Three Nuns, both from Scotland. This smell, of Splenden’s myrrh, I can remember with most accuracy but will it someday soon slip like the other smells into the realm of my memory?
That Fantastic Enumeración