Nostalgia: a wistful yearning to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a tenderness for the happiness of a former place or time.
Late last fall, after a dry summer in which dust devils danced and mountains shed their snow-caps too early, rain sneaked in overnight and fell unnoticed on our parched part of the west. Early the next morning, Joel and I set out to walk a mountain’s rim in the after-glow of dawn.
Our chosen trail abruptly left the valley floor and twined up a steep ravine pocked with boulders and damp with rain. As we climbed, stretching our legs and breathing deeply, we moved into the pungent smell of wet sage with its distinctive fragrance of warm spices cooled.
The earthy odor, a familiar presence during my formative years, surrounded me; and as I inhaled it, I was once again a young girl, standing at the edge of early morning alongside a vast, yellowing field.
Sleepy-eyed, I watched loved ones clothed in red — father, brothers, uncles, cousins — pace in silence through rain-soaked sage, watching for the flash of pheasant. Ahead of them, Spot swept swiftly, stealthily, back and forth across the field, nose to the ground, intent.
The memory fading, I stopped on the side of the mountain, letting Joel move ahead, breathing the scented air of my past, transfused by a mental yearning, a physical ache for the place, the family, the pet, the place, and the child I lost as I aged.
Those feelings, triggered when the smell of sage transformed a mountain path into my childhood, remained with me, gradually losing their power, until I had the wisdom to secure them with these words.
Such memories, when we manage to recapture them, are to be treasured, recorded, and shared with loved ones. They add up to a life.