I associate ‘squalls’ with sailing on open water. The word prompts me to think of explosive bursts of wind and rain that put sailboats in danger of capsizing. ‘Squalls’ triggers memories of my teenage years, living just a few blocks from a bay connected to the Gulf of Mexico. But my online dictionary does not support that association. The dictionary defines squalls as gusts of wind, often accompanied by rain, snow, or sleet. I doubt I’ll ever accept the broader dictionary definition of a squall. For me, the word will forever call to mind the potential dangers of pursuing adventure in a boat, exposing oneself to the caprice of weather. I am sure other words carry such associations, meanings beyond formal definitions but chiseled into my psyche through the wisdom of experience. At the moment, though, I cannot think of what those words might be. But I just know they exist, ready to spur memories I thought were long-since buried under the sediment of time. Squalls reside in my head alongside smells and tastes that provoke recollections of long ago experiences. For some reason, the thought that led to the sentence I just wrote brings to mind a flowering plant from my early childhood in south Texas; it had sticky, sky-blue flowers. I wonder whether such memories reside in our heads all the time or whether, in an act of magic, spring into being with just the right mental nourishment. And, there it is again, another word from my childhood: impetigo. I remember the word more than I remember the experience, though I recall mouth sores.
There. That’s enough to get my brain into gear today. Enough to record for future use. Enough to spark some ideas that might find their way into stories or books or memoirs.