Monday, January 15, 2007

Transported by a smell

Yesterday morning a chore I didn't really feel like doing turned into a gift. God brought a memory to mind through a smell in the air, and I was transported to a distant and beloved place for a brief instant.

I headed over to my friend's neighborhood to walk her dogs just as it began to get light. The fog hung over the hayfield, a filmy cloud hugging the ground. As I got out of the car at her house the acrid-sweet smell of woodsmoke was thick in the air. It seemed unpleasant at first, a strong fog smoke haze. As I walked the dogs though and watched orange pink sunrise streaks paint the sky, I was hit with the memory. All of a sudden I was walking on a dirt path in Cameroon, the early morning smells of cooking fires filling the air. Instead of the hum of cars from the nearby highway, I heard the crowing of roosters and the soft laughter of women walking to the spring for water. Instead of passing brick houses with pick-ups and cars in the driveway, I was passing mud houses with thatched roofs and goats grazing. I was transported by that smell of woodsmoke. It was brief. I was back to the reality of the dogs pulling on the leashes almost as quickly as I had been transported to the West African morning. But it was enough to turn an obligatory chore into a moment of wonder. Isn't it amazing how our sense of smell can do that?!

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