I was downwind from
camp and the odor of their
soup drifted to me
Adapted from the passage written by John Steinbeck in his, 1962 book, Travels with Charley where Mr. Steinbeck writes:
Fortunately the tents and trucks and two trailers were settled on the edge of a clear and lovely lake.
I parked Rocinante about ninety-five yards away but also on the lake’s edge.
Then I put on coffee to boil and brought out my garbage-bucket laundry, which had been jouncing for two days, and rinsed the detergent out at the edge of the lake.
Attitudes toward strangers crop up mysteriously.
I was downwind from the camp and the odor of their soup drifted to me.
Those people might have been murderers, sadists, brutes, ugly apish subhumans for all I knew, but I found myself thinking. “What charming people, what flair, how beautiful they are.
How I wish I knew them.”
And all based on the delicious smell of soup.
Maybe it’s the thought of the smells of Thanksgiving that brought this passage to mind.
In a recent New York Times Opinion Piece (Nov. 20, 2022), Pamala Paul asked, Is There a Problem With Thanksgiving? and answered her question with:
We could start with the base-level perennials — the godawful travel, the risk to one’s diet, the cousin who is loudly certain that someone has slipped gluten into the gluten-free stuffing.
There’s typically a grievance against the potatoes: the format, mashed or casserole, whether or not to marshmallow, why is there never enough.
Someone has canceled at the last minute; someone nobody invited shows up anyway.
At least one child refuses to sit at the kiddie table, the teenagers refuse to put their phones down at whichever table, an uncle insists on watching the football game at the table.
The table itself looks nothing like tables on Instagram.
Notice she doesn’t touch on the smell.
Think of all the issues named by Ms. Paul.
Then think of all the delicious smells of Thanksgiving.
Don’t you think about anyone connected with those smells that charming people, what flair, how beautiful they are?
And all based on the delicious smells.