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.