Monday, April 5, 2010

O Spring, thou cruel minx

80 degrees? In April? Spring blossoms have an actual smell; it's not just poetry.

Each year I forget and each year I remember again, and the smell takes me to the small house we lived in until I was in fifth grade. A small blossoming tree droops over a cracked sidewalk; three brown steps and a leaning iron rail. In the summer you could palm moths on the marigolds. Inside we watched black-and-white Superman reruns and, if it was a good day, TV dinner while Buck Rogers was on. I stood on those basement stairs and wept when I heard my grandfather had died.

I buried a pet in the back yard; we moved when I was nine and I always wondered if some curious child would find, ten inches down from the edge of the metal shed, the towel-wrapped tiny bones of a guinea pig. What pets would they have? Where would they bury them?

So now when I pause while taking out the trash, or walking the dog, or stretching after a run, and I close my eyes and inhale that breath of spring, thirty years flicker past like an eyeblink, and I think of that old house and that young family and the sidewalk with weeds in the cracks.

Then the wind blows, bending the snow-weakened pines, and I think of the sound of river water against a wooden bow. I can almost smell that low-tide mud. And I think of epoxy and curving wood, and the scrape of sharp of tools, and the sound of a man's voice now ten years dead.

How broad life seems on the first warm day of spring.


Barbara said...

It's amazing how scents can call up wonderful old memories. How vivid those memories become as we close our eyes and just take it all in. We're all ready for this Spring!

Cristina S. said...

I enjoyed this post. There are certain smells that transport me back right to Portugal (although sometimes they are odd things like the smell of a specific bathroom cleaner).

Speaking of Spring, are you finally going to grow tomatoes this year? Or arugula? Only one of my arugula seeds has come up, but that shouldn't stop you.