Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Just like smells, sounds take me back to places where I have been before. It is not often that I have the treat of smelling a Jasmine bush, but when I do, I close my eyes and I am immediately transported back to my friend Denise’s house where she had an abundance growing in her garden. Yesterday, the sounds of adults and children splashing around in the pool and the kids shrieking when Daniel was spraying the deck down with the hose and they were running through the spray did two things.

It took me back to the many Sundays I spent in my childhood at my uncle’s house with all my cousins. They had a pool and trampoline and we used to have the best time ever. There was an abundance of good weather, South African hospitality and food, and there was no greater, simpler pleasure than Sunday’s at this pool.

While I stood in my kitchen yesterday, I realized that not only did the sounds from the outside take me back to this very happy place, but they also made me realize that I am a real grown up. I thought about my parents and uncles and aunts, and how they were my age when we were the shrieking, carefree kids in the pool.

This was all enforced by a conversation I had with my Mom on Sunday evening. I was saying to her how entertaining people in my home, feeding people, hosting Shabbat (Sabbath) dinners and BBQ days like the one I was preparing for, was almost like a drug to me. As much as I wished we had no plans so we could just relax and take advantage of these holidays, it was almost impossible for me not to host a gathering – regardless of how many or little the number of guests might be.

She went on to tell me how much I took after one of my Dad’s sisters. I had three aunts, all of whom passed away when I was young, but I do have clear memories of them all. Apparently my Aunt Ella also used to love cooking and having people over. It is interesting to note that my handwriting can easily be confused with hers and I am told that the older I get, the more I resemble my Dad’s family. This clearly explained to me where this trait in my character comes from and how there are times when I am planning an event; I have noticed that it feels like I have no choice in the matter. I have to do it! I guess it’s in my genes and I am obviously doing what comes naturally.

My Mom went on to tell me how in 1944, she and my Dad would go out for dinner every night after work. My Dad had just been discharged from the South African Airforce where he served during the Second World War. As Mom had little if any cooking skills, the cost of 3 Shillings and Sixpence (35c) per head, made it possible for them to frequent a variety of restaurants at least four nights a week. The remaining nights were spent at one of my two sets of grandparents for Shabbat dinner, and Aunt Ella would have them over at least once a week as well. The dinners at Ella were the yummiest and favorites!

The restaurants were eventually narrowed down to one favorite and after eating there for a time, my Mom came up with a great idea. She approached Ella and suggested that she pay her the equivalent of what they were spending in the restaurant, and for the same money, Ella could cook for them four times a week. Given that this would feed not only Mom and Dad, but Ella, her husband and their baby son, it was a win/win situation. They all enjoyed the arrangement for about a year by which time Mom had acquired some cooking skills.
I hope that as time moves on and Ross finds himself all grown up, that he too will be transported back to a happy place by the sounds and flavors of his adulthood.