Autumn's Scents

Surprised by new scent, missing familiar scents, in this depleted autumn. Asking readers what fragrances certify autumn this year to them.

OK, if we're not going to have the colors of autumn, what about their scents?  How can we know and celebrate this new season?

Last week, driving into Princeton from Hopewell, a fragrance green and dry at once suffused my car. It was a scent remembered, but not known. 

Route 518 curves more than I realized, and I could see no source for this tantalizing aroma.  Almost spicy, yet subtle beyond belief. On either side were fields of corn, of sorghum -- clearly not the source.  What could it be?

I rounded one of the unrealized bend, to come upon a favorite sight -- a sturdy tractor, home from harvest, --golden rectangles of baled hay piled high in its trailing cart. 

Blessed hay for the creatures of winter -- something I do not experience in my Princeton life.  An aroma from Midwestern childhood. Maybe, even, considering its evocative effects, from a previous life.

I can't say what I most miss in autumn of 2011 - color or scent.

Once upon a time fall was spicy. Not only when our parents raked and ignited leaf bonfires. Fall had her signature perfume, released when we were 'just' walking in the woods. Especially climbing Brown Mountain in Michigan with Mr. Brown, whose woods it was. The crisp leaves of his forest rose to our young knees. They not only crunched exuberantly, but also released the truest 'eau de fall'.

The only words that describe autumn 2011 are "arid" and "sere". 

In other falls, when I was not plagued by a hip that does not function, I could at least release the pungency of bayberry, -- at Island Beach, at Sandy Hook, at the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge. Crucial to migrant birds, because so full of essential fats/energy for their impossible journeys, bayberry is far more important than the source of my favorite candles.

What scents tell YOU it's autumn?  Please share, since there are so few this year...  I will go in search of them.

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David Bock October 24, 2011 at 12:47 PM
The absolute best autumn smell I remember is the smell of burning leaves. Homeowners would burn leaves at the curb of their homes, and the distinct smell was a wonderful sign of the season. Of course the kids of today will never experience that bit of pleasure due to the enviro-Nazis like East Windsor's own Lisa Jackson, now head enforcer of Obama's ridiculous EPA. We have allowed our lives to be controlled by some very odd people and that is to our detriment.
Brenda October 24, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Today a friend took me on a trail at Washington's Crossing State Park. We walked through a heavenly lane of pine trees whose needles had recently fallen. I took in deep breaths of that refreshing pine scent, and relished the fall moment, while Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets flitted from one branch to another in search of food.


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