Susan L.

Close my eyes,

Think back in time, 

Try to find the cloth.


Play through the scenes

Of childhood dreams

To recall memories lost.

It's hard to settle my thoughts into one piece of cloth from my childhood. In fact, it's hard to determine how far back solid memories of this type really go. Yet, it was amazing to me, to discover that when called upon, our memories so deeply buried can be raised. I soon found various experiences and moments surfacing.

My strongest and most profound memory of the past revolves around cotton flannel, as in bed linens and little girl nighties. It was only when I called upon my senses, that flannel stepped forward. Mostly, I remember how the cloth felt, particularly the first time I slid into or under it, before items were laundered. There was nothing better. I do remember the feel of flannel sheets, when the weather turned cold, and the wonderful first wearing of new flannel pajamas.  Even to this day, as winter arrives, I break out the flannel sheets, and still comment out loud to whoever will listen, how much I love sleeping under flannels.... even in San Diego, which most people think is rather ludicrous.  

One of the obvious senses is the visual of cotton flannel; that soft fuzzy surface. I recall petting and caressing the sheets as I would a kitten, as I put myself to sleep. The raised surface retains my body heat and simply wraps round me.

Did you know flannel has a smell? Although I can't describe it in words, I know I would recognize it in a flash if I came across the scent. In fact, didn't someone bottle that into a perfume?  I remember a second scent; that of fresh air on the sheets, and what I mean by that is the smell one encounters from hanging the washing out of doors to dry.  Ironically, this transformed the touch of the sheets to scratchy, as they dried stiff. A little movement in bed soon brought my lovelies back to the soft nest I remember well.

When I married, my mother offered to give me a few things from her linen closet, and the one item I specifically asked for was one of the flannel sheets. I still have it today (as you can see in my photo composite), and I use it with every guest who sleeps on the futon in my studio.  I think unknowingly, I've used my old flannel sheet as a form of welcome, even if it is a padding layer beneath the sateen sheet laid over it.  

I think the memories that cotton flannels conjure up for me tie into much greater things of my youth and life; security, well-being, comfort, and warmth. The associations are strong. So, I am thankful for this exercise prompt, as it brought back a fondness of my childhood, and reminded me of all the associations one simple item can carry; now and through time.