Mmmm…that smell!


Since early spring, I’ve been tormented by some sort of ground-dwelling, grass-killing, hole-digging, super-stealthy, pesky critter.  I’m starting to feel like Bill Murray in Caddyshack.

It digs a hole and I fill it with rocks.  Next day, there’s a new hole next to it that I stuff with bigger rocks…rinse and repeat all summer.  You get the picture.

Last week out of sheer frustration, I dug up the hole and packed it with a secret weapon that was sure to chase away anything from duct-cleaning salesmen to zombies. Something so putrid and horrible that no living (or un-living) creature has ever been able to tolerate it – moth balls.

moth balls

That is, except for one.  My father.

For him, moth balls were like little air fresheners.  He’d buy boxes of them and scatter them liberally in dresser drawers, storage bins, closets and unfortunately for us, our hockey bags.

Hockey bags smell bad enough on their own, but add in a dozen of those nasty little white balls, and you’re guaranteed to get lots of personal space in the locker room.  You had to put up with the teasing from the other kids too…or worse, finding one of them lodged in your ‘athletic protector’ while you’re on the ice.

I’m sure his original motivation for applying those stinky balls to everything was to discourage critters from turning our stored items into a rodent hotel, but I think he started to really like the smell and eventually started spreading them around the whole house.

But as bad as moth balls smell, because of our life-long exposure to them, they do bring back some pretty cool memories of our childhood, and of Dad.

Arriving at our summer cottage up north, we’d open our drawers to put our clothes away, and find a dozen or so moth balls rolling around in there.  We didn’t take them out either, so all summer, we were free of those pesky moths just by walking around.

I don’t even remember ever seeing any moths growing up.  I guess they must have worked!

It’s funny how we connect smells to hidden memories – even bad smells.  I still don’t really like the smell of moth balls, but when I do get a whiff, I’m flooded with long forgotten thoughts of an amazing childhood…except for the hockey bag of course.

Oh, and the moth balls in the rodent hole in my back yard?  They dug a new one…again.