I find it interesting that some smells can transport me to another place and time. Last Mother’s Day, Dave took me to lunch in Tubac. It was a wonderful day and we actually hatched the idea of this blog while we dined at the Tubac Golf Resort . After our lunch, we visited the many arts and crafts shops in this little town just south of Tucson. When we walked into one particularly interesting store there was a pungent scent that assaulted me immediately. Who could miss the toxic mix of kerosene and turpentine all rolled into one? The smell of oil cloth filled the air and absolutely grabbed me, and took me far away!
There I was in a log cabin right on the bank of the Frying Pan River. This was the real deal complete with a wood/coal burning stove in the center of the room, and a chamber pot in the corner. You could see daylight between the logs where the mortar had chipped away…as incongruent as it might seem there was electricity for the lights (no kerosene lamps here). This was my grandparents’ twilight job. I think they thought of it as retirement, but in reality, they had just traded a ranch on the Colorado plains for a motor lodge in the Rocky Mountains. That translates into giving up Hugo, Colorado, with its sand, and wind, and cattle for the red rocks, and red dirt, and tourists (mostly fly fishermen and hunters) of Meredith, Colorado.
Oh, back to the oil cloth…there it was on the table thumb tacked down and also lining the shelves. Every where there was oil cloth, colorful and pungent, and oh so easy to clean! So, when I walked into the shop in Tubac, I was transported to summertime in Meredith. My sisters and I, along with our cousins, spent our summers fishing, picking berries, chopping wood, filling coal shuttles, catching night crawlers, being stung by nettles, showering in the big bathhouse behind my grandparents’ modern cabin, and staying up all night in a log cabin playing monopoly or poker!
So yes, Dave bought the oil cloth place mats pictured above. How could he not? It makes my heart sing a bit every time I sit down at the table, and put my dish on one of the gingham checked or flowered mats. Reminds me of my Grandma Sugar, my sisters and my cousins, and summers full of fun, a little hard work, and the wonderment of that magical place in the mountains with the red dirt, and the sound of the white water rushing over the rocks of the Frying Pan River.