Saturday, November 3, 2007

Flannel Sheets and Oil of Cedar

This Saturday morning Marc and I took the air-conditioner out of our bedroom window.

The season has officially changed in our New England home.

One of our loads of laundry today was a set of flannel sheets that has been stored in the hallway linen closet for the past six months. Some years we have put the sheets right on our bed without a re-washing and regretted our haste when a musty smell snuck up from our pillowcases at bedtime. This evening we will be able to turn down the covers and, I suspect, register audible satisfaction at the fresh smell and textures and warmth awaiting us.

Another November treat came today when I unwrapped a new bar of soap called “Snow on Cedars.” Marc and I had been walking through a Pennsylvania country market this summer when a vendor’s stand with handmade soaps stopped us. The range of bars – the layers of colors in each bar – the aggressive wildness of some of the natural scents displayed in that open-air stand delighted me. I bought two different bars, one of them a rich, sullen green topped by a layer of snowy cream. Called “Snow on Cedars,” it held a surprise in store for me when I eventually got it home.

In the shower one morning shortly afterwards, I raised a washcloth to my face and passed the lather from the bar of green soap across my forehead. Surrounded by dense steam and hot water, I was suddenly inhaling the oil of cedar that was a key ingredient of this homemade soap. I was carried instantly to my parents’ home when I was growing up. I was again opening the cedar chest where all our winter blankets used to be stored during the long humid New Orleans summers.
The prickly textures of the woolen blankets, the acrid scent of the cedar boards lining the chest used to bear up to me the yearly message of winter – that rarest of seasons in the Deep South.

Today there was a repeat of that first morning’s experience with “Snow on Cedars.” We are not yet near snow this year in New England, but I have been conscious of marking a turn in the year with this Saturday’s rituals.

A fire in the fireplace tonight? It fits our New England home, our New England mood, our New England lives together.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back! I was just in the living room enjoying the simple pleasure of holding an eraser-less #2 HB pencil in my hand and realizing that it had been too long since I held one without immediate purpose. What a joy to simply hold it ready and marvel at the potential contained in it. The potential for joy, the potential for revelation, for beauty, celebration, art, ... and also for violence, degradation, insult, and injury. I suppose it depends on whether you cherish or wield the power it offers.

Thanks for picking yours up again and believing in Words.

John said...

A friend's encouragement is treasure. The person who will believe that her words are worth writing, the person who will believe that his words are worth reading -- these are blessed people. Who wouldn't hold themselves blessed to have the company of such friends and readers?