2008.02.06 Bag Balm smells like...

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I’ve spent a lot of time sniffing my hands lately. I just can’t quite place the odor.

It’s Bag Balm that’s at question here. I gave my wife a can for her 50th birthday. I also gave a can to my father for Christmas. Bag Balm for Christmas. What more could a man want?

I spread my money around by buying one can from Fayette Feed and Grain and the other can from Fayette Feed Mill. One can cost a little more, but I won’t tell you which store is making a killing off the stuff. You’ll have to do you own shopping to figure out that 24 cent difference.

Why Bag Balm?

In my father’s case, it’s obvious. As I was growing up, there was always a can of the stuff by the back sink at the Observer office.

The back sink is known as the printer’s sink or the Black Sink. A lot of ink has been washed off hands in that sink over the decades and a lot of chapped hands have resulted. My father always said Bag Balm was great stuff for chapped hands. I never questioned him, although I’m not sure if I ever used any back then.

I’m using it now to attack those little split skin sores on my finger and thumb that arrive every winter.

Why did I give my wife 10 ounces of the stuff for her 50th? I’m still way behind in the odd gifts department. She has a lot more coming if we’re ever going to even things out.

Besides, I knew she would like the tin. There’s a cow surrounded by clover. She recognized “the familiar green can” immediately since she worked on a small dairy farm one summer in high school.

But the smell of that stuff...I just can’t place it. I know it’s familiar. It’s sort of a medicinal smell—perhaps the small amount of 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate contained in the salve. It sort of smells like a freshly paved road. Maybe that’s the petrolatum. Or perhaps the wet sheep smell of the lanolin base.

Every now and then, I’ll rub a little on my hands and begin sniffing. I know it’s going to come to me eventually. I’ll realize that it smells like something more than just Bag Balm.

It’s not the only thing I’ve been wondering about lately. Chuck Ekins said something recently that I completely misunderstood, but it got me wondering.

He was commenting on the wind a few days ago when it was blowing so darn hard.

And now I’m wondering: Is the wind louder in the summer or in the winter? Does it make more noise when it’s whipping the leaves around or when it’s whistling through bare branches?

Maybe it’s not even correct to refer to the wind as making noise. Perhaps the wind makes no noise until it pushes leaves around or sets branches in motion.

In early February, it’s a little difficult to remember just what the trees sound like when a summer storm moves in. It’s exciting, it gets rather loud, but it must be a deeper whooshing sound compared to a winter wind. Winter trees produce a sharper—and louder—sound.

The wind and Bag Balm aren’t the only two things I’ve been wondering about. This last one is the most bizarre. How do you say the words “How green was my valley” without it sounding like a question?

I don’t know how this query came about. It happen at about 3 a.m. recently when Ms. Leddy finally came to bed. I don’t know if she said something or if it was just in my head, but I was remembering the bookcase in the house where I grew up on Cawley Road and I was remembering the book, “How Green Was My Valley.”

Go ahead, try to say “How green was my valley” as a statement. You can overemphasize the word “green” or maybe add a little drama to “valley” at the end.

Perhaps the best solution is read the entire closing sentence of the book— “How green was my valley then, and the valley of them that have gone”—but it’s cheating to add extra words.

I suppose I should be happy, very happy, that these three things are my biggest worries. I’m going out on the back porch now to sniff my winter boots. The water-proofing gunk I applied years ago still stinks and it might just smell like Bag Balm.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017