‘triggers’ – sassafras

‘triggers’ – sassafras


we all have them, perhaps we are aware of some, some creep up out of nowhere and make themselves known, well, of course we do really know from which they emanate, from our past, our experiences, life’s little moments or big ones or those in-between, I am always fascinated when one pops up from under the ether, today was one of those times, I was off in my social distant preserve, well, ok, even pre-pandemic this little corner was always a lone go, if I saw more than two people in a given day that would be a record, there is this space here in New Jersey, only a 15 minute drive for me, that is rather unique, a winding park where a brook (non babbling, more of a give and take conversationalist) carves through ancient rock formations and is constantly washing fossils into the stream, and it is 100% free and legal to meander through the entire thing and look/dig for said fossils, this is not a common thing, anywhere that is, so the privilege is certainly there, being alone in nature, especially on a lovely day such as this, well, that’s a bonus, so, I travel there to escape the normal world, to unwind, listen to the micro waterfalls and birds sounding all around, I go there often when the dial hits above 70 degrees, so why was today different?
for the uninitiated, or people not from around these parts, I will give you a moment to follow the link and get the basics… (waiting…) … …
OK, that’s enough time, but man Dave, can you get this thing back on track already? eh, you’re right, maybe I should call this blog “tangents” at times, but this post is “triggers”, so back to the matter, sassafras has such a specific meaning for me, such a direct correlation than just some random tree, if you see one (they are easy to spot once you know, three different types of leaves), if you see one rip off a leaf, rip that in half and then again, then sniff it all in, it is a singular smell, like lemon and pine adopted a beautiful child, you can even make tea from the leaves, BUT! that smell, that experience of ripping the leaves and the inhale, transports me back instantly to day camp, my first experiences in the wilderness outside the woods of my town, taking the bus up into the Watchung mountains (tame mounts by any count), tree forts, corn stalk fields to run in, bug juice (a cheap version of Kool Aid/Juicy Juice I think), hunting for salamanders under rocks, the pop of box turtles as the bus ran them over and climbed the hill to camp (not the most pleasant memory I admit but it was so distinct), day camp, the first time I was really away from the folks for any length of time, everything seems like an eternity at that age, every single day was a complete enclosed adventure, and the next day, start over, tighty-whities with your name sewed in, handed the brown paper bag lunch with the same stuff, board the bus, anticipate the winding drive up, run out like a dam burst, claim your cubbyhole, and frolic about, I even got to sheer sheep, looking back, maybe not a skill I would need, but making macaroni necklaces isn’t exactly a vocation either… so sassafras, it brings all this flooding back, in an instant, like a flash flood from my subconscious, things I have not thought of in decades, from just that simple scent, that singular scent, all wrapped up in past experience, I have a sudden hankering for bug juice…

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