I saw that word, kinderstruck, on urbandictionary.com. I’m not even sure if it’s a real word, but even if it’s not, I love it. There is no other single word that evokes that feeling you get when a sound or smell puts you back in time to your childhood, feeling the simple pleasures and impressions you had before you inherited the worries of adulthood.
Some of the things that make me kinderstruck:
Jonie Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, and other musicians from the 70’s that my mother used to listen to as she hummed and cleaned the house or cooked dinner. Cooking my mom’s recipes while listening to those songs is a particularly potent path to kinderstrickeness. Even modern bands that sound particularly 70’s-ish such as Fleet Foxes can do it.
The smell of freshly fallen snow. Hmmmm…. it brings back the feelings I had on those days off from school when we would spend all day on the hill behind the house sledding until our hands and feet were painful from the cold and we would have to come into the warm house with red cheeks and runny noses to drink hot chocolate and eat homemade cinnamon rolls.
The smell of those trees that grow by rivers and lakes; that spicy, pungent, wild smell. My grandfather used to love to take us out on the lakes with his boat. I would sit in the front and pretend I was flying over the lake, the wind buffeting my face and whipping my hair, the yummy smell of birches and cottonwoods filling my nostrils.
The smell of freshly cut hay. We used to have to go get hay for our horses, often driving our very old Chevy pickup out into the hayfield and throwing the fragrant bales into the truck bed. I loved to sit and watch and listen as the horses munched and crunched on the good alfalfa, vacuuming the dusty ground with their velvet lips in search of the tender little leaves that would fall down from the stalks.
The taste of huckleberries. I remember one camping trip in particular when we went hiking looking for the berries. Although I was normally the most sluggish and tired child in my family, the clean mountain air and the prospect of those indescribably delicious berries gave me boundless energy. I was first in line on the trail, often having to stop and turn back to wait for the others. I would stand in the midst of the huckleberry patch, putting more of the sweet, tart berries in my mouth than in my bucket, staining my lips reddish purple. Later, there would be pancakes with bursts of warm berry goodness all through them.
Wild onions. I know, that sounds like a weird one. I used to love to see how many things I could find to eat growing near our country home. One year I found wild onions, and although I thought that I hated onions, the taste of those onions pulled out of the ground, an offering of nature free for the taking, was wonderful to me. Sweet, pungent, delicately crisp. I’ve never tasted any onion better than those little wild ones.
Ice skating. My mother loves to skate, and she taught all of us kids. I actually liked to watch mom do her little jumps and spins better than actually skating. Once she took us out to a local lake that had frozen solid after many days of subzero weather. There was no snow on the lake, so the whole thing had become a playground for brave skaters. It was frightening at first, especially when we would hear those sounds like gunshot which meant that the lake was freezing deeper. I never felt happier or freer than I did gliding across that big frozen lake.