sábado, 21 de noviembre de 2015

The Smell of Burning Firewood

The air was pleasantly cold and humid that morning, almost freezing. The colour of the vast olive grove was vibrant green, and their branches were starting to warp, bow, due to the bearing of the heavy fruit. Definitely winter was here; it could be smelled.

      The sound of a distant vehicle approaching filled the forestall vacuum, ragging the solemnity of the woods with spasmodic and clumsy little explosions. A kid, too small for her age, stepped down the pistachio tractor all in mischievous yet innocent bliss: two colliding concepts only coherent within the complexity of a child's mind. Grandpa was upset, the last minutes, apparently, the old tractor was running almost on an empty tank. He took some used sunflower oil grandma always gave him before leaving home, and filled the tank in its entirety; it was one of those little tricks of wisdom that never ceased to work. In the meantime, the kid couldn't care less about grandpa’s technical struggle; it took her less than a minute to lose herself among the mystique of never-ending columns of majestic, dense olive trees. She knew the path to follow, and walked through, what to the inexperienced eye, looked like just a mass of green. The new litters of kittens were waiting in a luminous glade; she was afraid one of those nauseating free shooters might have killed them. Those chickens, ducks, cats and dogs, even the birdies grandpa kept in the shed, could appear dead the next day, fairly easy. At nights, during the hours of endless darkness, she was always in wonder if these creatures would survive for one more day.

        Every morning, before venturing out again in grandpa's fields, the kid had her little rutine: she would wake up early and anxious, rush downstairs almost slipping over the black and white—chess resembling—tile floor on her way to the living room, hoping to see grandma already up just about to prepare breakfast with her usual tender smile. This first meal had no pair for her; she asked to have a toast of fresh bread heated right inside the fireplace. Its aroma filled the place with such indescribable richness! Decades would pass and she could not find anything which smell could remotely take her to those childhood days; even those fancy, expensive bakeries downtown turn as boorish in comparison, that, these days, they conjure up an ironic smile on her face as she walks along the streets of a busy city where healthy pure is the new trendy. She also remembers how back then, grandma used to spread the morning toast with this salty homemade butter the old lady kept in one of the cabinet drawers hung way up on the wall. The girl liked to look at the endavour that it was to take a bit of butter form the jar, and the mesmerising immediacy with which the butter would melt when entering in contact with the crunchy steaming hot toast. The girl would almost go into a deep trance at those early chilly hours of the day when she was near the fireplace sensing the smell of the burning logs, mixed with homemade bread and golden melted butter. She could take an eager bite while the ardent crepitation of the fire was reflected on her wide open pupils.

        These things, memories, lay hidden somewhere in her anatomy, they are the echo that sounds solely for her every time she gets off the train in a chilly night of winter approaching, and the sense of burning firewood fills the ambiance and wraps her body with a caress.

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