Tuesday, April 19, 2011

May Pull

Someone returned a Maple Walnut candle at the candle shoppe and I snapped it up, post-haste. Although I love Spring, the flowers and the floral scented candles, I can't help but adore maple smells and tastes, as well as the things that they represent.

Maple is Autumn and chilly mornings in sweaters and jeans. Maple is that vacation to Vermont I've been trying to take for the last five years. Maple is that iconic winter image of a bearded man in a flannel shirt tapping a gigantic tree--waiting for the delicious sap to flower with his breath rising in the frosty air and creating a makeshift halo for the surrounding trees (thanks to the New York Times for having exactly the kind of image I was thinking of). Maple is rustic and hearty. It's a crisp Sunday morning where Dustin and I are fortunate enough to have a day off to make coffee and breakfast. We sit on the couch and watch terrible television or read.

You can't get maple all of the time, as the shoppe considers it a seasonal scent. Maple Walnut is more scarce--a retired scent brought back for the hustle and bustle of the past holiday season. For me maple will be a welcome sight and smell in the heat of the summer is just too intense and I have a day of staying inside with the blinds drawn with a Christmas/Winter movie marathon. I'll make Pumpkin Black Bean Chili and pretend, if only for a few hours, that the snow outside is so deep that I couldn't possibly leave the house.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups cubed cooked turkey
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, saute the onion, yellow pepper in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker; stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through.

We learned in candle shoppe training that scent evokes more memories than any other sense, and I'm inclined to agree. Whether pleasant or not, why my nose is bombarded with scent, a deluge of life experiences flood my mind. Lilacs remind me of my grandmother's house with the giant lilac bush that was almost as high as the house. Suntan lotion reminds me of the senior trip to Wildwood, NJ--where seven people managed to share one bathroom without killing each other. MacIntosh apple reminds me of my own Dutch Apple Pie preparation, which yields the best Dutch Apple Pie ever...just saying.

I think the reason I wanted a job at the candle shoppe in the first place was because scent played such an integral part of my everyday life. I met a woman, while working, that had recently had a brain tumor removed. She was left without a sense of smell, but still shopped for scented candles: clinging to the memory of what she remembered, and those memories are almost as sweet.
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  1. Wow this is the most sentimental I have ever seen you be! I loved it. Scents are amazing, I too get a mental picture of something of what ever a certain smell evokes. It is something I greatly appreciate and enjoy in my life and I am glad to see you share the same feelings. Oh and your pumpkin chili recipe sounds like amazing-ness!

  2. That chili sounds absolutely delicious. I think our recent bout of chilly rain would be a perfect reason for chili! I'm coming by with with Tupperware!