Posts Tagged 'air'

A Crackle of Electricity, Then a Wave of Rain

Yesterday, a storm swept in while I was reading some of Leigh Hunt’s poetry.* The Gardener rushed outside before the storm to rescue lavender — big bunches of purple blooms — and timed it just right, getting inside before the light change.

I looked out over the houses from my second story window, and suddenly, every tree in the neighborhood was outlined with light. The sky was marked with striations of yellow, then grey, then further back — dark grey tinged with blue. It almost looked like cardboard cutouts of the sky in those colors. The birds fell silent, and then… I could see trees in the distance, waving. As the dark grey striation enlarged to include the houses 2 blocks away, their trees rocked in the wind. I took two breaths, then suddenly a shock of wind and rain rushed through the window and hit my knees, book, and face. The rain sheeted down, I raced to slam windows shut, and the street outdoors filled.

Small rivulets/waves could be seen glinting in the sun as they rocketed against the street curbs and curled their way down to the drain at the base of the hill. The light was amazing: trees turned new colors, the rain was a silver veil, and bits of blue sky showed up like flecks in a hazel eye.

And then the storm was gone to the bay. Cold, clammy breezes replaced stifling weather with electric grit in the air. Today, the sky is calm, the air is bright and cool, and lavender scent quietly fills the house. Luckily there is no chorus of mowers whining nearby, since it’s too wet to mow. Instead, I can hear the air move outdoors in the trees, and birdsong travels through the air from near and far.

*The poem was “To the Grasshopper and the Cricket.” It was written in a sonnet contest with Keats, who wrote on the same topic. Interesting to compare the two poems. Hunt’s 1816 (1817) poem begins: “Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,/ catching your heart up at the feel of June,/Sole voice that’s heard amidst the lazy noon,/….” Found in English Romantic Writers, edited by David Perkins, (C) 1967.

Valuing the Unseen

The vanilla scent of lilies wafts in an open kitchen window, announcing their presence.

And within that scent lie memories of sitting on porches — that of my home and my friends’ homes — while reading stories or making up stories or watching the cars go by. Dusk filters into the evenings of my memories, and somehow I still feel like I’m 12 years old again

Sometimes, a garden reveals its presence in the night. Yes, even in the dark the white flowers gently glow in moonlight, echoing the stars above. But I’m unlikely to stand outdoors in the dark for a long enough time to let my eyes adjust. The mosquitoes are legion.

The smell of rain on hot, dusty streets brings me back to age 21, when I was living in the big City on a street without grass and one tree, worrying about rent checks and a crummy economy. The crackling electric smell of a thunderstorm reminds me of age 14, when I was out on the roof of my friends’ house, watching a storm (kids don’t do this: the collateral damage from parents, let alone the danger, is not worth the excitement).

Scent can be as powerful as a time warp in a movie. It can be a simple reminder to enjoy a cool breeze on a hot night. It’s cold and fresh as fir branches under snow or warming like cinnamon and vanilla on baking day. Of all the senses, the sense of smell is the most ephemeral.

What scents “send you” down memory lane?

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