Emerging Writers. A Memory by Ann V. Pogue
The Smell of Love.
The smell of mint conjures memories of my grandmother. It is a flavor she taught me to love, a flavor she introduced to me in many forms – Lifesaver Crystomints, dark chocolate mint wafers, and home-brewed ice tea with fresh mint from the garden of the home we shared with her.
My grandmother had a black thumb, a legacy that skipped her daughter but lives on in me. With ignorance and earnestness, she killed every plant she tried to grow, but she couldn’t stop mint from thriving.
My father ceded one small section of the backyard to Grandmother’s mint. It grew with strong, thin stems and emerald green ridged leaves reminiscent of a skinny ace of clubs.
In the groomed cacophony of my father’s garden of colors and smells, Grandmother’s rangy mint could look like scraggly weeds someone forgot to pick, and its scent could be overwhelmed by the fragrant peonies and roses growing nearby. Its magic would only be revealed when Grandmother would harvest some and bring it to the kitchen.
That crisp, fresh scent filled the room as she washed and dried the leaves, picked them off their stems and placed them in the bottom of the curvy blue stoneware pitcher. She added hot, freshly brewed tea, muddled the leaves to release their fragrance and flavor, and left the tea in the refrigerator to cool.
I smelled the mint on her fingers as her hand waved the refrigerator door closed.
When the tea cooled, I loaded the bottom of a tall glass with sugar until Grandmother, who also had a sweet tooth and so sympathized with my sugar drive, made me stop at the fourth heaping spoonful. She poured tea in my glass and I stirred, allowing some sugar to melt into the liquid and some to stay saturated at the bottom of the glass. Then Grandmother added ice, being careful not to splash, and garnished my glass with a couple of small mint leaves. I inhaled the clean, refreshing smell. After we finished drinking the tea together, I used the teaspoon with the extra long handle to fish the yellow sugar out of the bottom of the glass and let it melt on my tongue.
Whenever I catch a whiff of fresh mint, I return to my childhood kitchen and my sweet tea times with Grandmother.