Sunday, May 24, 2009


A few weeks ago, a small mob of us converged on Greenwood’s on Green Street in Roswell for a Thursday evening dinner. It’s a down-home place, noted for being the home of the infamous Greenwood’s Holy Shit Chocolate by Gawd Cream Pie. Normally, dinner at Greenwood’s would involve a considerable wait, but with the economy being what it is, we had no trouble getting a table for our party of twelve.

It was after dinner, as we waddled with leaden bellies back to our car, that I noticed a powerful flowery scent, a scent that enveloped us like a cloud. Honeysuckle! There were honeysuckle bushes surrounding the parking area, and their distinctive aroma transported me back to my childhood. For back then, we had honeysuckle aplenty growing around our house, as well as adjacent to our neighbor’s garage.

One of the Childhood Rituals I remember was plucking honeysuckle flowers, pinching off the bases of the flowers, and drawing the styles out through the bottoms of the little yellow and white blossoms. The styles would pick up a few precious drops of sweet nectar, nectar imbued with that indefinable honey-like scent, and these we would touch to our tongues in order to taste that evanescent sweetness. The taste of honeysuckle is a sense-memory that I can still recall with perfect clarity - even after fifty years.

I was reminded of another Childhood Ritual just the other day as I was pruning our Japanese red maples. Maples have distinctive seedpods - samaras, they’re called - with a papery wing that extends out from the seed, causing the seed to whirl like a helicopter as it falls.

Seed pods of the Japanese red maple.

Back in the day, every kid knew what to do with these mapleseeds. You would crack them in half (like the one in the lower left of the picture above), split the thick end of the pod open, and affix the pod to your nose. The pod’s end, when split, exuded a sticky substance that acted as a natural adhesive... as if the pods had been designed with exactly that purpose in mind.

I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a single child anywhere in the northeastern U.S. who hadn’t worn a Pollynose at one time or another. It was a Childhood Ritual, something that had been passed down through untold generations.

She Who Must Be Obeyed was unfamiliar with this part of growing up, perhaps because she was raised in Texas. Mesquite trees just don’t have the right kind of seeds, I expect.

Do you remember pollynoses, and tasting sweet honeysuckle nectar? I do. And I wonder what today’s kids will remember fifty years down the road...

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