For me Easter will always be a special holiday. It is a holiday which smells, not like chocolate, but like boat fuel mixed with salt water. It feels like crisp mornings which will turn into sunny days.
For most of my life Easter was spent camping in Mallacoota. A seaside town on the very edge of Victoria, in Australia.
In her poem Blue Sarong, in the You Won't Remember This collection, my mother writes about
'the Mallacoota camping photo's
that began when you were in a bassinet
and continued 'til you left home.'
She asks what I remember, and my strongest impression is this olfactory one – the boat fuel – contained within that there are many layers of memory. One of the things I love about our Easter tradition of camping in Mallacoota is that I know so many others share them with me. They know the experience of driving slowly through the camp park on the waters edge looking out for a camp site and seeing that sparkling water for the first time since the last visit. If you are a boat owner you will have gotten in early and secured a camp sight adjacent to the moat moorings. We did not have those campsites, we simply drove past them slowly; and the smell – which might sound unpleasant to you, but is magic to me because it is the start of Easter.
I am being sentimental. This Easter is a shambolic one. I am working on Thursday, Sunday and Monday. Thursday night my eldest son Rafa and I are taking a train to stay with friends in Newcastle. I will get to do some chocolate distribution on Sunday morning before I go to work, but chances are that will be the only time the four of us will spend together. Added to this, as we host Airbnb we will have guests arriving and leaving all though Easter.
I am sentimental as well because last Easter we were in Australia. We were not in Mallacoota, we were at my mum's and we were close to our departure date to return to the UK. But our Easter Sunday was special. My brother was visiting and we put up a tent on the riverbank and lit a fire, so at least some of Rafa and Finn's Easter memories might smell of woodsmoke. The little boys ate more chocolate than they ever had in their lives, and were given special eggs to keep – I will need to find them!
|Rover riverbank memories, with wood smoke - Nowa Nowa, Australia|
This week on they way to nursery we saw a woman with a wheely suitcase. Rafa said 'Maybe she is going to the airport, like we will so we can go to Nanna Helen's to get Easter Egg's.'
We will not be at Nanna Helen's this Easter, nor will we be in Mallacoota – but I am working on some new Easter memories. Our Newcastle trip is a chance for Rafa and I to have some quality time together. To form memories that will last, that we can talk about in the years to come. I don't know what shape these memories will take, but I suspect they won't smell like boat fuel.
What do your Easter memories smell like?
What traditions are you carrying forward?
*When I was first posting this blog I struggled to find a picture of Mallacoota on my computer, and used one of my husband and I at Nowa Nowa. Then over Easter my brother and his girlfriend went to Mallacoota and posted some great pictures on Facebook. So I borrowed one with their dog Argie. Good to see the family tradition of going to Coota continues.