Monday, September 27, 2010

Lavender memories

There are certain scents that every time we smell them bring pleasant memories of places we have been, people we've been associated with or some great experiences we had.

My Hungarian great grandmother lived in the small village Paljevina in the Eastern part of Croatia. The village was situated on a small hill rising in the middle of countless fields of wheat and sunflowers.

She lived by herself until she was almost 90 years old. Her life was difficult but she knew how to take care of herself. She lost her first  husband when she was 18 years old, than remarried and had four children, losing her second husband while her kids were still small. She lived through the dangerous  times of world war I, and world war II.       

She was know as a herbalist, a healer and a local midwife. She took care of her farm, and raised by herself my grandfather and three daughters. I would visit her as a teenager, when she was already well in her 70's. Her old kitchen with her wood burning stove was filled with fragrances of dried herbs hanging down in bunches tied under the wood beams.
In the bedroom, in front of the bed was a heavy wooden trunk filled with vintage embroidered linens.  This is my earliest memory of lavender. I would creak open  the trunk lid and a strong lavender scent would overwhelm me, surrounding me like a transparent cloud. I couldn't resist  opening the lid every time I was in a room.
The house was old, with squeaky  floors. In the back of the kitchen by the wall were step wood ladders leading to the attic. I wouldn't climb it or turn my back to it when I was alone in the kitchen from fear that some bad spirit would come after me.

My great grandmother died almost 30 years ago, but I still remember this tall, tough Hungarian women that lived her solitary life for decades. What brings out the most vivid memories of her is the scent of lavender. Then, lurking behind my shoulder shows up a trickster Malik Tintilinic, a very naughty little boy dressed in red from head to toe,  just one of the characters of many stories she told me from Slavic mythology. 

Recently I made a couple of lavender sachets. I embellished them with old stamps, beads and memories of some old simpler times, when our experiences were pure and simple but strongly engraved in our hearts.

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