Yesterday, on the 257 bus from Horseshoe Bay to Vancouver, a group of girls in their early teens sitting behind me: “Remember when that lady sprayed my hair and for days after I smelled like a grandma?” Listening, I thought to myself, We smell? I surreptitiously sniffed my arm. Chanel 19. Is that a grandma smell?

Who cares, today in Ottawa, as we spend time with our grandson Arthur and his parents. Walking near the National Gallery this morning, Arthur spotted Maman, the remarkable sculpture by Louise Bourgeois. Araignée, he shouted as he raced to stand underneath, looking up at the eggsac.



What did your grandmothers smell like, I asked my son as he drove us home from the airport last night. One of cigarettes, he said (that was my mum), and the other of Yardley’s talc (John’s). So I guess we do smell. I weeded and then had a shower and in a little while we’ll sit under the vine over the pergola we helped build a few years ago. There are cardinals and tomatillo plants as tall as my shoulders (and extra seedlings for me to carry home next week). We’ve read a few books already (a Rupert story, a new book featuring a moose, a beaver, and a bear), Arthur and me, and I hope we’ll read many more.I suspect there’s room in a child’s memory for more than smell. Books, cinnamon buns, silly rhymes, stories that begin, “Once upon a time…” or “When your daddy was a boy…”


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