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My grandmother’s attic was always cold and crisp, and smelled like cookie dough. We always visited her in fall or winter, which probably explained the chill, but the air also felt clear, in a way that I have rarely felt elsewhere.

It was a magnificent attic. The entrance to the attic was hidden in a small closet in my grandmother’s bedroom. It always seemed liked a marvelous secret entrance to me. You had to open two doors – the closet door, and then the door inside of the closet, to get to the attic. If you filled the little room there with coats or boxes you might never know there was a door to the attic there.

The cookie dough smell of the attic was primarily confined to the stairway that you climbed after you opened the second door. You could feel the temperature dropping as you ascended the stairs. The attic was quite large, and fairly well lit with natural light. There was an enormous fan in the wall at the opposite end of attic. There were all sorts of things up there, covered with cloth and blankets to keep the dust off them. The ceiling was quite high, it reminded me a bit of being in a small barn. Mostly we just went up there near Christmas to locate the lights and ornaments.

I loved going up there. I always had to go up the stairs so carefully, especially when I was small and the railing was practically taller than I was. There were many things about my grandmother’s house that I loved – it was so different from our apartment, – but the attic was one of the things that seemed the most magical.

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