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A Cigarette Lighter and a World Away - Essay Example

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I had postponed opening the box that had been delivered by the postman two days earlier. I knew what the contents were and I wasn't sure I was ready to reopen the past so soon after my grandmother's death. But today would be different…
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A Cigarette Lighter and a World Away
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Download file to see previous pages I carefully peeled back the label and the years fell away with each new layer of wrapping paper. As I opened the box, my childhood came rushing out and filled the room with a new, yet familiar, aroma. Inside the box was a cigarette lighter. My grandmother had received it as a gift from what she called "an old flame", and it had always held a special place in my grandmother's purse. When I'd visit her I'd always ask, "Can I see the lighter", hypnotized by the mysterious beauty that it held. Now, it had been willed to me and with it came memories and thoughts of my grandmother.The solid silver lighter had been worn by decades of use, yet the hand tooled grooves still held the artistry of the French craftsman that had made it. It had a rugged feel, the sense of armed guards at the royal Victorian court. When I was younger, the lighter filled my small hands and weighed me down, as I'd run through the woods with it held tightly in my clutch. Its weight would pull me down, face first onto the forest floor as the smell of decaying leaves, newly uncovered by the spring thaw, caressed my senses.
As the smell of the forest's morning dew faded, a memory of my grandma's "special recipe syrup" filled my mind. It was the aroma of maple syrup cooking in my grandma's backyard as she turned sap into a sweet nectar. She would always let me strike the lighter to light the woodpile that she evaporated the sap on. As the sap evaporated, it left behind the sweetness of pure maple syrup. Risking burning my hair, I would lean over the large pot just far enough to catch a whiff of that natural sweet smell. It would mix with the smoke from the burning wood and linger in my nostrils for hours. As I savored the smell of the maple, I caught another faint aroma, the distant smell of burning, fallen leaves.
Fall was my favorite time to visit grandma. There was always the traditional Halloween and Thanksgiving treats, overly sweet with the taste of a bountiful harvest. But I had my best time when I was raking the leaves in the yard. Grandma used to give me fifty cents to rake the fallen leaves in the yard into one big pile. We would then set the pile on fire and marvel at the reds, blues, and purples in the blazing leaves. The smoke would sting my eyes and throat as it chased me around the yard.
Grandma always let me light the lighter to start the leaves on fire, and it was one of the few times she ever let me light it. She would let me look at it and hold it but insisted that, "You should never start a fire that you can't put out". I would look for any excuse just to light that lighter. Grandma didn't know it, but I would have raked that yard for nothing just for the chance to see the bright flash of that sparkling flint.
The few times I did get to put the lighter into action always made my hands smell of petroleum. This lighter, made way before the electric spark pre-packaged gas models, was powered by flint and lighter fluid. No matter how I tried, everytime I handled the lighter my young hands would be covered with the scent of the fluid. I smelled my hands now and could still smell the strong, yet strangely pleasant odor. I went to wash my hands, but the smell still hung in the air, and along with it others filled my nose.
I recognized the smell of burning brush from the summer I helped grandma clean out her fencerows. It was a bonfire that towered over my childhood head, crisp and alive, flames shooting toward the sky as they consumed the tender young branches. I sensed the smell of a Pall Mall as I imagined grandma lighting her one vice, a non-filter mixture of exotically blended tobacco. The smell of a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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