As a kid, one of the best things about visiting my grandmother’s 100-year-old house in India was a far bedroom which once belonged to my dad during his childhood. Bookshelves covered two walls, from ceiling to floor, and the rest of the room was filled with random antiques and items that could be fashionably considered vintage today. This was a quiet place, where the rest of the household rarely ventured at that time, so I made it my hideout.
The faded, frayed Persian rug at the foot of the bed had obviously been the bearer of plenty of traffic in its better days, but it was always a hushed delight to pluck a book off the shelves (at least the ones I could reach) and curl up there to while away the hours.
Afternoons were the best for this. The sun would be beating down unbearably on the dusty roads outside but apart from the droning insects, all else was quiet – most people retired to their beds for an afternoon nap to seek refuge from the heat.
Except for me. Gleeful with my little books. My absolute favourite, even when I’d long outgrown the recommended reading age, was a book that was at least a couple of decades older than me. It had something to do with a family of bears. Bored during a hot summer’s day, the mother bear organised a picnic and made fresh lemonade with oranges and lemons for her little ones. Now, I have no idea what sort of scratch and sniff technology they had in the sixties, but whenever I opened the pages of that book, the fresh smell of oranges and lemons never ceased to enchant me. I can’t count the number of times my mother walked in on me, with my nose literally buried within the pages of that book.
So on this wintry day (thank you weather.ca, with your forecast of -10 to -26C), I caught myself pleasantly daydreaming of that book and those afternoons. The name of the book completely escapes me (apparently I never saw fit to investigate this key bit of info in my youth) and no amount of Google searches for “oranges and lemons, +bears +book scratch and sniff” have revealed the title yet, but I have revived it temporarily at least, with these exquisitely fragrant lemon poppyseed muffins. I did one batch with marmalade hidden in the centre, another with slivered almonds (I was sort of craving almonds in a muffin), and a third batch with thin slices of sugared lemon on top.
Just tried one with the lemon slice. Pure heaven. Mmm. Mornings are going to be a little warmer and sunnier for me this week.
edit 10 minutes later: I can still taste lemon on my lips.