Thursday, October 8, 2009

all of a sudden I’m there

For me scent plays an extremely powerful role in triggering memories, certain scents can instantly transport me to another place and time. Scents in the garden especially…magnolias, lilacs, and the smell of fall leaves are all reminders places and times in my life.

After moving to Arizona my brother mentioned that one of things he missed about Spokane was that moment in late winter, when you step outside and smell spring for the first time. If I remember correctly he described the scent as a combination of snow and ice melting and the sun warming the asphalt, earth and trees.
Recently I was transported to my grandparent’s backyard via the smell of ripe concord grapes. A neighbor’s vine I posted about in July is loaded with ripe fruit. If you’ve ever smelled ripe concord grapes warmed by the sun, you know the scent I am talking about. It’s powerful, earthy, decadent and a bit over the top. Almost intoxicating.
My grandparents had the most amazing, old and twisted concord grapevine growing in their backyard. There was a lot of family history in that grapevine and I loved it. My grandma even shipped me a box full of grapes once or twice while I lived in Seattle, when I couldn’t make it home during grape season. Opening the lid of the box and letting the smell of the grapes fill my apartment was heaven. It took me back to family time in my grandparent’s backyard…just like walking past my neighbors vine did. Are you wondering if I ate one of the grapes? Three actually…


  1. If you can get close enough to photograph them, I'd say you could eat a few. Those are beautiful pictures!

    Smell is said to be the most evocative of the senses: to this day, when I smell pine resin on a hot, sunny day, I'm instantly transported to Boulder, Colorado where I camped in the 80s.

  2. Lovely pictures-those grapes look so fresh and luscious. When I was a child we had a grape arbour-my father's friend brought back a couple scions from Syria for him. I still remember enjoying the grapes!

  3. Thank you for this beautiful story. I didn't know you could grow Concords W. of the Cascades, I had heard not. I spent years trying to figure out where to get a US version of the 'strawberry grapes' I tasted (but mostly smelled!) once in Italy, and only figured out this summer they are Concords. I haven't smelled them on the vine in probably 15 years, but it's still right there in my brain, the memory. I'm glad you have some so close at hand!

  4. I'm sure they don't mind sharing grapes with passers by. I think gardeners like to share fruit, they'd never be able to use it all themselves. My grandparents had raspberries by their fence, kids used to come by and stick their hands through and take a few, it was tradition.

  5. Jane, so glad you know what I am talking about! And you know I have never ever seen anyone in the yard of the house with the grapes...nor do I see any signs of them picking any themselves. Thus any potential guilt I might feel is rapidly fading.

    Nicole, where did you grow up? Grapes from Syria sound so much more exotic than Spokane grapes!

    Karen, it is odd to me that I never see these grapes in the stores. They are so amazing! Will you grow them if you can find a vine?

    Megan, uhm...there are raspberries in the other direction...I've been good and not sampled any of those. But it almost sounds like I should...

  6. I grew up in Trinidad, in the Caribbean. I guess the grapes from Syria were ones bred for heat resistance.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!