Wednesday, June 23, 2010

30 Days of Smell

Day 4: Cedar

We recently acquired a bedroom suite that belonged to David’s grandma. She is almost 94 and needed to move into a nursing home. Most of her earthly belongings are being dispersed among kids, grand kids and great-grand kids. Grandma gave us a set of depression-era bedroom furniture from her spare room, including a beautiful cedar chest.

I opened the chest today and was surprised at the strong, enveloping smell of cedar. The scent is sweet, woody and piney, like a forest-in-a-box. David’s dad said that if the scent fades, we can lightly sand the inside and it will release the cedar fragrance once again.

I have very specific memories associated with cedar. I think of my grandmother’s cedar chest, which I keep in our closet. She gave it to me years ago before she died. Inside the chest, I used to keep her fur muff—a gift of my grandfather—with a little note pinned inside, “To my darling Lillian, Merry Christmas, Walter.” Along with it, Grandma also gave me a braid of her hair, probably ten inches long and a beautiful, golden blond.

Cedar has long been used to protect and preserve things—it has a natural resistance to destructive insects and decay. For me, the fragrance of cedar also preserves something else—the past. Its aromatic smell carries me away to memories of two grandmas who have meant and mean the world to me. My two cedar chests hold the legacy of these two women in the memories evoked as I lift their lids and inhale long and deep.


Thank you, for two beautiful, loving and vibrant grandmothers whose memories I long to cherish. Every time I see or open one of their cedar chests, bring to my mind their legacy of love. I pray that their lives will stay with me, just as the fragrance of cedar lingers. And when my recall of them begins to fade, sand the surface of my mind and reawaken my sense of them and all the ways they have blessed my life. Amen.

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