My nooi is in n’ naartjie, my ouma in kaneel, daar’s iemand in anys, daar’s n’ vrou vir elke geur…

That is from a poem by the beloved Afrikaans poet, DJ Opperman and translates as:

My girlfriend is in tangerine, my grandmother in cinnamon, there’s someone in aniseed, there’s a woman in every aroma…

And so it is that my own Ganny Sue is in the smell of banana muffins and I’m transported to her kitchen every time I bake them.

Ganny Sue was my father’s step-mother. His biological mother died before I was born. My maternal Nan was a citified working woman and totally different to Ganny-Sue, who was the archetypical farm-wife; she bottled fruits and vegetables, baked bread every day and made her own clothes. She was always in the middle of some ambitious sewing project and would have a few pins stuck in her blouse, or a thimble in her pocket. She had an old dressmaker’s dummy that she called Daphne and poor old Daphne was loudly blamed if anything went wrong. My Grampy used to say to me “Old Daph’s in for it again, what say you and me take a little walk and fetch the eggs”.

Her sewing room was a delight for a little girl; she had a seat that opened up to a three-tiered sewing box containing all manner of sewing notions. There were bits of rolled up ribbon, reels of cotton and buttons galore. Tape measures and tassels dangled from the lampshade and a big basket of fabric leftovers stood in a corner. It was from this box that I learned to sew when I got a little older.

This is a little frock that she made for me when I was a baby. Sadly the box it was stored in was damaged by a flood some years ago, and the wet wood stained the dress.


57 Comments Add yours

  1. oooooh! this post was all pleasure to share. thank u dear cindy. u know how to weave words and more.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Muffin with you coffee, Doc? 🙂

  2. halfp1nt says:

    I remember your little frock, and it still looks great 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Our Alice has managed to get the stains out 😀

  3. souldipper says:

    Truly a pleasure to read, Cin. Thanks for conjuring some aromatic memories for me as well. Because my mom was not domestically inclined and I had no access to my grandmothers, I was always drawn to neighbours who were like your gram.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Lucky neighbours, Amy 🙂

  4. That dress is precious. How do you make those muffin holders? Xx

    1. theonlycin says:

      There’s a shop called Bakin’ Bitz at the Careira Centre in Republic Road, just a bit up from the Brightwater Commons. I bought the muffin holders there. Fabulous shop with all manner of baking things.

  5. Cindy, I am thoroughly enjoying your “down-memory-lane” posts – they are an absolute delight to read and make for a happier day. Thank you.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. theonlycin says:

      They’re rehashed pieces of old writings, Mandy, but I like to dig them out from time to time. Thanks for reading 🙂 xxx

  6. Adeeyoyo says:

    Another lovely, nostalgic post, Cindy! My MIL was the equivalent of your Granny Sue. She welcomed any challenge in the sewing and cooking line.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Sounds like a nice MIL 🙂

  7. Liane says:

    Sounds like you had a special childhood 🙂

  8. Supa says:

    Lovely memories Cindy. Why aren’t the muffins in a bucket? *stamps foot* 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Watch tomorrow’s post, it’s on my bucket list … 😉

  9. Aromas are our best kept memories.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I got a bit stuck with ‘geur’ and didn’t know quite if it meant taste, aroma or scent.

  10. nursemyra says:

    I wear vanilla perfume, I love those food smells like tangerine, caramel and chocolate

    1. theonlycin says:

      Would have plugged you as something spicier than vanilla, Myra 😉

  11. Pseu says:

    I know exactly what you mean about smells triggering memory.
    My botherer visited a couple of days ago and brought some excellent peanut biscuits, which took me straight back to a cottage we lived in (post South Africa) when I was 5 ish…. Ma used to cook peanut biscuits there. I must find the recipe!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oh please share when you find it, Pseu.

  12. Tilly Bud says:

    The South African Waltons! You’ve got me all gooey again.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Cuppa tea and a muffin, Tilly 🙂

  13. I so remember that afrikaans poem from school and the beautiful baking smells that it conjured up for me. Your little gingham frock reminds me of the apron we made at school. Such nostalgia …. we are all on a muffin plak at the mo too!!! Beautiful post angel xxx

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Jan 🙂 Yes, what is it with all the muffins?

  14. Artswebshow says:

    You cant beat blueberry muffins, but banana ones are also nice. lol

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s cruel to beat muffins 😉

  15. Rosemary says:

    What lovely treasures our memories are.

  16. SuziCate says:

    Such lovely memories. An honor to be a banana muffin. This post reminded me of my babysitter/next door neighbor. She taught me to sew by hand when I was four, and I will never forget how her food tasted so much better than anyone elses!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I wonder if things just tasted that good back then because our little tastebuds were still undeveloped?

  17. Tandy says:

    I love the memory, and the muffin cases! where did you get them from?

    1. theonlycin says:

      There’s a shop called Bakin’ Bitz at the Careira Centre in Republic Road, Randburg, just a bit up from the Brightwater Commons. I bought the muffin holders there. Fabulous shop with all manner of baking things.

  18. bandsmoke says:

    A tear to my eye and a search through a long forgotten “digbundel” – wonderful post 🙂

  19. Such great memories, Cindy! Granny Sue sounds like a very special woman. My maternal grandmother didn’t cook much because she was married to a CC Camp cook, my step grandfather. He took over and she let him. My paternal grandmother cooked, and her hubby, my grandfather, couldn’t boil water. They were both sweethearts. I can imagine how the aroma of banana muffins that she used to bake for you would call up memories even sweeter than those muffins. Blessings to you, Cindy…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Your grandparents sound a quirky and interesting bunch, Carol 🙂

      1. They (we) are a colorful and crazy bunch. I’ll spare you any details. 🙂

  20. I haven’t had muffins for ages – think I must bake some over the weekend. Pity about the little dress being water damaged 😦

    1. theonlycin says:

      Our Alice managed to get the dress spotlessly clean with some secret mixture she uses 🙂

  21. slpmartin says:

    Another special memory shared with us…thanks!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks for reading every day, Charles 🙂

  22. I love that poem. It’s so perfect. If I smell fresh corn thats my grandmother. Or Gain laundry detergent.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Gosh, do they still make Gain?

  23. nrhatch says:

    Lovely. Scents do bring back such evocative memories.

    1. theonlycin says:

      They’re very powerful triggers 🙂

  24. Tokeloshe says:

    Excellent post!

    The poem brings back memories 🙂
    L♥ve the journaling.

    You have a photo of the frock, which can be photo-shopped and scrapbooked.


    1. theonlycin says:

      Ooh Tok, I am sooooo far behind in my scrapbooking 😦

  25. libraryscene says:

    How I imagine the sewing room…how lovely!

    The poem, so glad you shared. Too bad you didn’t attach an audio link, I’d love to hear it spoken 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’ll try to find a link, doubt there is an English version recorded 🙂

  26. Aaahhh, nice memories of Granny-Sue. Love the old sewing box/seat idea…, would have been a treasure trove for little Cindy 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’ve tried to recreate her treasure trove, but it’s not quite the same without the patina of many, many years of usage 🙂

  27. Jamie Dedes says:

    Sweet memoir. Enjoyed.

  28. What a lovely lady Ganny-Sue was – and a cute-as-a-button little dress she made you!
    I also get transported back in time by aromas – it’s such a distinct kind of nostalgia. I love it.
    Sunshine xx

    1. theonlycin says:

      She really was a great woman 🙂

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