Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What Is It For You?

This post is part of the Atlas Girl Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of other bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE.
It still does it to me, the smell of popcorn. It reminds me of home.

Home wasn't a zip code, a particular house, or the number of years in a place for me. Those changed and there were many.

Rural American bullfrogs bellowed from the cowponds, and I climbed high into a green apple tree. Corn fields rippled for miles, tall honey-colored grasses swayed, and lawn mowers droned sleepy in the distance.

In another setting, mango trees swayed high above our cement block house, while tropical rains hammered and crashed on our metal zinc roofs in a way that still leaves me nostalgic. Rice bubbled over coal pot fires, and neighbors chopped sugar cane stalks, throwing a chunk to the monkey pet nearby.

You know it too. That smell, sight, or sound that reminds you of home. Because no matter what state or country we were in, my mom and dad made it home with a few simple touches. Scrounging up batteries or electricity, they slipped in some family-favorite musicians and suddenly music slid through the house. Familiar refrains from Bruce Cockburn, Kansas, Pink Floyd, Phil Keaggy, and Michael Card peeked around corners, explored new houses, and traipsed over our luggage to each of our family of five. Instantly, our shoulders relaxed and we stretched out our legs.

Mom popped popcorn, shaking kernels at the bottom of any large pot she found, fiercely holding down the lid, as corn rattled in the oil and exploded. She shook her hips and torso in an attempt to give every kernel a chance at the heat and oil; we watched my dad watch her and smile or steal up for a kiss.

And suddenly, we were home.

 My blogging friend, Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. I was honored to read a sneak preview of the first two chapters before it was released, and now I am scarfing down my newly-arrived full-length copy of the book, and enjoying it. You can grab a copy here. All proceeds go to Lulu Tree in Africa. #Atlasgirl


Teresa Coelho said...

love this post. i make popcorn the same way in a big pot with olive oil and season salt, and my family stands behind me making comments when i vigorously shake the kernels too. i guess its all part of what makes my children's past a memory like yours part of their family life and home. thank you for sharing your story Jennifer.

Dolly@Soulstops said...

What a vivid picture you paint :) And I could see your mom....my girl asked me recently if we could make popcorn that way given how the microwave kind is now deemed unhealthy for you...Lovely memories :)

Renee said...

Certain smells & sounds definitely signify home to me. And popcorn is one of the best homey smells there is! Thanks for sharing this & for visiting my post, Jennifer. Are you part of Emily's Facebook group? She made a place to link your post there also. Blessings!

Floyd said...

Great post. It is amazing how God uses our senses to touch our souls. Great message, Jennifer.

Bruce Cockburn? Awe yes... Dancing In The Dragon's Jaw... That's bringing back some of my own memories!

Pam said...

Beautiful word picture, Jennifer. I particularly love your description of music traipsing...

Jolene Underwood said...

Oh yes, the memories of popcorn. My dad would pop in a cast iron skillet - every single night! Always after we went to bed. Sometimes my sister would get up & eat with them. When they saw me, it dawned on them that we were supposed to be in bed. :) Thank you for sharing this vivid picture of your memories. Love how your parents made it home for you.

Jennifer Dougan said...


Nice to meet you! Forgive my delayed reply. Oooh, olive oil on popcorn sounds good too. I laughed to hear that your family grins with your full-bodied popcorn shaking too. It must be a mom thing. :) They will love that memory too.

Delighted to meet you,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Oh I agree with your daughter! I want to go back to the old fashioned way of making popcorn too, probably healthier too.

Always nice to talk with you,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Aren't scents and sounds powerful in how they rigger memories? I agree. Thanks for stopping in. Yes, I'm on her fb page too.

Smiling with you,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


You are a Bruce Cockburn fan too!?? No wonder we're online friends. :)

My family and I grew up listening to him and love this stuff, especially his older songs "Lord of the Starfields," "Nicaragua," "Tokyo" "If I had a Rocket Launcher," "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" "Peggys' Kitchen Wall," "Wondering Where the Lions Are," and so many more.

Grinning happy at another Cockburn fan,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Thank you. Nice to have you here. I'm glad you liked the music traipsing image too. That made me smile also.

It sounds like you are a word lover too,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


What fun to picture your dad making popcorn in a skillet, your sister sneaking down, and it not hitting your parents that you were there until you were both there. :) We used to peer through a floor grate to watch parts of MASH when my dad watched it. Popcorn was always part of that time for him too. :)

Nice to meet you,
Jennifer Dougan