VEEDER: Sweetclover under my skin
I imagine everyone has some familiar scent that hits their lungs and brings them back to a time in childhood when they felt so deeply loved, so overwhelmingly safe, so much themselves. So free.
Maybe it’s your grandmother’s warm cookies from the oven or the smell of a diesel tractor plugging across a field. Maybe it’s your parent’s home or the fur on the back of your old cat or the salty air blowing across the ocean and onto vast beaches.
For me, it’s sweetclover.
I wish I could pick the right words to describe the sweet, fresh scent that fills the air tonight and gives me comfort when I breathe it in, moving across the landscape, stepping high …
My first best memories are lying among it, rolling down hills on the ranch as the sun found its way to the horizon and my cousins, tan and sweaty, hair wild, would fling their bodies after me. We would find ourselves at the bottom in a pile of laughter, yellow petals sticking to our damp skin.
For us, the clover was a blanket, a canopy of childhood. A comfort. It was our bouquet when we performed wedding ceremonies on the pink road wearing our grandmother’s old dresses, an ingredient in our mud pies and our crown when we felt like playing kings and queens of the buttes. It was feed for our horses and a place to hide from the seeker, to rest after a race, to fall without fear of skinned knees. It was a promise of summer and a wave of color to welcome us home together.
It’s there all season, the seeds tucked neatly under the dirt, and still I’m surprised when I open the windows of the pickup after a late night drive and the fragrance finds its way to me.
And I’m taken back …
I’m 7 years old and my grandmother has our bunk beds made up in the basement and my cousins will be coming down the pink road soon. And when they get here, we’ll climb pots and pans and we’ll put on a wedding and look for kittens in the barn. We’ll play “The Wizard of Oz,” and I’ll be the Tin Man. We’ll chase each other on the hay bales in front of the barn and then hide from each other in the tall grass that scratches and brushes against our bare legs.
I wish I could bottle it up for the cold winter days that showed no sign of release. I wish I could build my house out of it, weave it inside my walls, plant it in my floor and lay down in it at night. I wish I could wrap those cousins, my family, in its soft petals and sweet stems and watch as they remember now, the kids we once were before time took us and made us think that we were anything less than free.
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughter on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.