Growing up in a small country town in rural Australia couldn’t be further from where I am today, living in center of a large urban setting half way around the world from where I started. Yet, there are certain things which tie me closely to my childhood – one of them is my sense of smell…
For example this afternoons thunderstorm and the smell of the rain took me back to my summers in Australia, where we had more than our fair share of electrical storms that would break a hot spell. Strangely that wasn’t the case today, although it was warmer than normal it was by no means a heatwave… Ha! I wish 🙂
Our summers at home were often in the mid to high 30’s and sometimes into the low 40’s for days on end. The heat was bearable knowing that it would break with a massive thunderstorm and that everything would be refreshed after the inevitable rains so the cycle could start all over again – aaahhh summer in Australia!
Interestingly last week I was buying my flowers and noticed a small branch of eucalyptus in a bunch of flowers before I knew it I had instinctively reached for a small leaf and tugged it clear. Rolling the small sweet smelling leaf between my palms and within seconds I was transported back to my childhood as I closed my eyes and breathed in the sticky pungent aroma on my hands. This scent is one of the most enduring reminders of my childhood…its crazy that a small can transport you back so far.
I have distinct memories as a young boy working working alongside my dad and younger brother James in the bush as dad cleared his annual one acre block of eucalypts by axe so that we’d have firewood for the coming year. After felling the trees James and I would then go and collect the logs and stack them into 6 foot lengths by 3 feet high. Another of dad’s skills was that he was an expert axeman and could size up a log and cut it to almost exactly six feet every time.
What can I say, except that he had a phenomenal aptitude for when it came time to doing anything with his hands.
Many a weekend was spent cutting wood out in the bush with dad. Once we’d cleared the block and stacked all of the offcuts the forestry inspector would then come and count the number of stacks we’d made and estimate the cost of the wood. Although in today’s dollars its very little, but to a family struggling to make ends meet warming the house in the cold, damp winters of my childhood was a vital but expensive activity which we all needed to help with.
Growing up in an environment where manual labour was a basic requirement toughed you up early in life, as we always had chores to do. Especially given that dad would single handedly cut down around 25 metric tonnes of wood each year, then borrow a local farmers truck so we could cart it in from the bush block and unload it along our fence line. James and my job was to then cut it up in to pieces big enough to fit the wood stove and heater.
Cutting wood was a constant activity given that our wood burning kitchen stove ran virtually non stop all year round.
One thing dad drilled into us, and I carry this with me to this day, is his insistence on the value of a strong work ethic. He believed that if you worked hard, no matter what you did in life that your efforts would be recognized and valued and that you’d always be able to put food on the table.
Remember, this was a man that grew up in the 1930’s and 40’s when people didn’t have a lot…no social safety net in the form of unemployment benefits, child welfare payments, social security or pensions that we have today. People had to fend for themselves, so everyone had to pitch in to the help the family unit, no if’s, and’s or but’s.
Growing up in this type of environment has clearly rubbed off on me, in that I’m a strong believer in the concept of hard work to get ahead in life. Its seems to have served me well so far – what can I say? 🙂
As I reflect back, some of my fondest memories growing up was when I was working alongside dad, even though at the time I’m sure I was less than thrilled at always having to work, but I would give just about anything to have some of those times back again…
Like most of us I got an appreciation for many things during these formative years and working in the bush or on farms around town certainly gave me an appreciation for life in a rural setting, and although breathtakingly beautiful at times it was also a hard life. These experiences provided me with all the evidence I needed to know that this was not the life that I wanted to live.
I had a plan…but more about that another time. 🙂
Funnily enough I started writing about things that trigger my senses, and ended up meandering into my childhood and growing up in the bush. Crazy storyteller antics…getting side tracked into a great story!
Anyway, back to where this story all began – all of my trigger smells can be charted back to my childhood years, their power is still so immense which I find fascinating.
How about you? Can you take just a minute to slow down and reflect on the things that trigger your senses – I bet you have them….we all do and often lurking deep within our psyche just under the surface of our day to day lives.
A sort of a pandora’s box if you will….ready to spring into action at a moments notice. For me, these are my touchstones to a distant life and as you can imagine I cherish each and every one of them.
I wonder if this will be the same for Zach and Sami’s as they get into their adult lives? Time will tell I suppose, but I also know that it add to the fabric of their lives if they do.