Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It’s The Little Things: The Sweet Smell Of Basil

My father loved growing vegetables and he was very good at it. He’d wake up early in the morning to tend to his garden, and spend an endless amount of time puttering around his backyard. This is something he enjoyed immensely, especially after he retired. Whenever I visited, he offered me tomatoes and cucumbers and onions and whatever else had ripened. He never was much into flowers – that’s always been my mother’s domain – and didn’t bother much with herbs, but he did favour one: Ocimum basilicum, what everyone knows as basil.

My father and my older daughter in his beloved garden.

For as long as my father had his garden, he had basil growing in it. And every now and then he would lean over and take a deep whiff of the lovely smell that this plant emits. I came to associate this scent with him, and the first spring after his passing, whenever I ran across a basil plant in the supermarket or in the garden centre or in someone’s garden, I felt an ache in my heart, remembering his love for it, and how much I missed him.

Not a year goes by that I don't grow basil in my garden in memory of my father.

My mother plants basil on my father’s grave each spring as soon as the weather permits. Because the location is warm and sunny, the plant thrives and by late summer it is quite large. On breezy days, the air surrounding my father’s grave smells wonderful as the basil leaves dance in the wind. I like to think that my father catches a whiff of that heavenly smell wherever he may be.

Is there a particular scent that you associate with someone?

26 comments:

  1. Oh Martha so beautiful, so sad, and I think that your dad in Heaven, can smell what you've so kindly continued for him, how lovely. I often smell a certain fragrance out of nowhere, but I've yet to remember any memory. Except for the one time I bought a Lady getting married figurine which was a perfume from Avon, I bought it only because my mom worked a bit for Avon, do you remember the commercial: Ding Dong, Avon calling....to my outmost delight when I twisted the cap I received the most beautiful gift, it was the perfume my mom always wore, and i smiled and i cried, but there weren't that much perfume left so it became a treat to have on a bad day..The following Christmas I told my sister and two brothers that \i had the best surprise for them and they each sniffed, and nothing. I almost cried, how could you not smell mom this was her perfume...but it never have the effect on them it had on me, for through all her life none loved her more than I did....I still have the bottle and i closed it tight hoping that at some point there will be a small amount, where I can smell my mom again....what lovely questions you ask, thank you Martha you're a sweetie

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    1. Yes, I remember the 'ding dong...Avon calling' commercial. My gosh...how long ago was that??

      What a wonderful story, Lorraine! How nice that you remember your mom with that scent. It is the same feeling that I have with my father. I think it's so heartwarming that these little moments, these simple things stir memories in us.

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  2. Martha, I am so glad you shared this beautiful memory. :-)

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read it, Birdie. It's one of those moments in my life...

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  3. What a lovely tribute to plant basil on his grave every year. Very appropriate! I don't associate certain smells with people but I always associate the smell of creosote with my childhood. I grew up right beside the CPR train tracks and a Manitoba Telephone System pole storage yard, both places abundant in wood liberally treated with creosote to preserve it from rotting. I sure hope that breathing in vast amounts of creosote doesn't cause cancer, LOL!

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    1. What a great story, Debra! And yes, I certainly hope sniffing that doesn't cause health issues. LOL... What the hell... Is there anything these days that doesn't?

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  4. That's very a wonderful memory to have of your father! I love it that every time you smell basil you think of him.

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    1. It is very heartwarming. A way to always think of him.

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  5. Loved this post. And, just so happens, I've been playing with local organic basil all day long.

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    1. I've always loved basil (so great for thinking), but after my father died, I loved it even more.

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  6. Lovely, if poignant post. Now I feel like growing some basil, your plant looks fantastic!

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    1. It's such an easy plant to grow, too. And smells wonderful!

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  7. What a lovely post. Sorry your dad has passed.

    Whenever I smell basil from now on, I shall think of you in your fathers garden.

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    1. It's been a few years, Wendy, and it's gotten easier. I still miss him, but I've learned to live with the loss. Whenever I smell basil, I am right back in his garden. It's like magic!

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    1. Thanks, Red. He was a wonderful father, and he deserves to be remembered.

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  9. what a lovely post Martha, and wonderful memory of your Dad

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  10. Ah, that is so sweet. I grew basil in my garden last year; it does have a wonderful scent. :)

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  11. It's a great idea to plant basil by his grave - so sweet! It's an evocative smell, one of my favorites.

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    1. One of my favourites, too. Even without a garden, I'd grow it indoors or on my balcony. Such a great smell.

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  12. loved this, Martha ;) wonderful tribute to your Father ...

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