There it was. The scent I would never in my lifetime forget. It was perfect, and it made my mouth water. Though it was all around me, I couldn’t pinpoint where exactly it was coming from. But it didn’t matter either way. All that mattered was the memory filling my mind of how wonderful that aroma would always be.
I glanced down at the steaming cup of hot chocolate in my hands, loving the warmth emanating from it. The smell was delectable, but that wasn’t what I had sniffed originally. No, it was something else; something my mother used to make all the time when I was a kid. A soft smile crossed my face as I thought back those days.
“It’s freezing out here,” I muttered to no one in particular. The wind was howling, screaming even, as it glided forcefully through the trees, making them shiver in fear. Snow littered the ground, creating a false sense of peacefulness and calm. Quickly hurrying up the driveway, I blew on my hands to keep them warm for just a few seconds more.
A sudden smell assaulted my nose, making me hungry to taste it. I rushed into the kitchen after removing my boots and coat. The scent became stronger as I neared the source. Slowly, I leaned over the machine and peered into the small, circular window on the lid, watching in fascination as the blades mixed the dough.
“Leave it alone,” my mother told me as she noticed my presence.
Moving away, I took a seat at the kitchen table to wait almost impatiently for the final product. Though I knew it wouldn’t be done for a few hours, at least. Sighing, I took another deep breath, taking in the amazing scent again. Resigned to boredom until the machine was finished doing its job, I placed my chin in my hand and stared out the back door at the worsening storm.
Thick, dark clouds covered every inch of the sky, refusing to show the beautiful blue it usually held. The flurries were coming faster now, as though they couldn’t wait to touch the ground, to cover it all in a blanket of white. In some places along the yard, mostly near the fenceline, lay dirtied snow. However, it was the untouched, pure white flakes that caught my attention. The way it piled neatly in straight lines along the railing of the deck, or how it lay flat along each step, just waiting to be disrupted.
There was a faint click as the machine stopped mixing the dough. I turned my gaze to my mother, watching as she removed the dough, only to place it in a mixing bowl and covering it with a kitchen towel to rise. She placed the bowl near the back of the stove, keeping it warm with the heat from the oven as the lasagna cooked slowly inside.
“Mom?” I called out.
“What?” My mother replied as she put a cup of apple cider on the table in front of me.
Wrapping my hands around the cup, I brought it close to my face so the steam could warm my cheeks. “Can we start a fire?”
She didn’t reply right away, instead she closed the curtains on the window above the sink before washing her hands. “Yeah. Go get some wood from the box and put in the fireplace. Throw some newspaper in with it, too.”
I dug around in the box, trying to pull out the biggest logs and twigs. After crumpling up some sheets of newspaper and throwing them on the pile of wood, I watched as mom started the fire. Slowly, inch by inch, the flames licked their way up the wood and to the paper. The flames crackled and popped loudly as it burned all that lay beneath it. The heat felt so good against my back as it warmed my body, but it wasn’t long before I felt as though it were burning me. Mom was next to me, trying to get warm before she, too, could no longer stand the heat.
Mom kept busy by cleaning the kitchen while I watched a Christmas movie on TV. I knew it wouldn’t be much longer until the dough would be ready for baking. The way it smelled now was no comparison to how it would smell once it was through baking. And the warmth of the finished product, fresh out of the oven and ready to eat, would make it even better.
“Come set the table for dinner,” mom instructed me. I did as I was told, before helping mom bring dinner to the center of the table. As we sat down to eat, I glanced again out the window, seeing how bad the storm now was. It was hard to see anything past the neighbors house.
Mom cut me a square of lasagna, before doing so herself. She also scooped me a bit of salad, then handed me the ranch dressing. I began eating and was warmed further by the heat of the lasagna as it slid down my throat. Mom took a few bites before standing to put the dough into the oven.
There wasn’t much conversation over dinner, mostly talk about what I wanted for Christmas, and the family party coming up next week. Twenty minutes later, the oven dinged and I grinned. Finally! I watched as my mother removed the pan from the oven. She edged a knife around the sides of the pan to ensure that the loaf would come out in one piece. After placing it onto a cooling rack, she smiled knowingly as I waited for her to cut me a slice of what I wanted most.
It had been a while since I last tasted her baking. Maybe I would call her later, and ask for the recipe. I shivered in the brutal temperature of the winter, as the wind blew by. Looking towards the bakery that was just across the street, I shook my head and smiled. With a sigh, I made my way into the safety of the building.
“Hi,” I greeted as I neared the counter. “I’ll just have a couple slices of your fresh bread, please.” I paid for my snack and sat down at a table in the corner. “Mm,” I whispered as I enjoyed the taste. “Just as I remember.”