It’s a fall Saturday afternoon. Late October. The leaves haven’t yet begun their mass exodus from branches to the ground, because it’s been unseasonably warm. Football rages on the TV. An avalanche of games, nobody worries about over exposure anymore…. Cable changed that.
An eon ago, my mother made chicken soup every Saturday afternoon in the fall. My brother, my father and I balanced watching football with eating chicken soup. My mother would time the cooking of her soup to coincide with the halftime, so we wouldn’t miss any of the game, because these were the days long before televisions became a fixture in kitchens.
I’m listening to Neil Young singing After the Gold Rush. Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s. If she was on the run then, she’s in exile now.
The family routine of chicken soup Saturdays changed in 1964 when my brother played quarterback for our high school football team. We sat in bleachers all over Central Jersey while my Uncle Sal filmed the games, and at home games, the players in the film bounced up and down as my uncle went up and down on the bleachers.
We were back to our chicken soup Saturdays the next year, although my brother was away at school.
Decades later, after Alexis and I moved across the country to the Napa Valley in California, hot air balloons, not footballs, floated in the sky in the fall and the aroma of wine, not chicken soup, permeated the air and mother nature had a refuge in the Mayacama mountains.
I hardly remember the taste of chicken soup anymore. I haven’t eaten it in years. But football is still in the air and the leaves still fall in the fall and I do drink wine.
But every now and then, on a cool Saturday afternoon, like today, as I listen to Neil Young sing Old Man, my olfactory system conjures up a distinct aroma, and for just a moment, the aroma of my mother’s chicken soup drifts from the kitchen through the dining room and into the living room while my father, my brother and me watch football on a chicken soup and football Saturday, long ago.