You can visualize the morning. A heavy frost has melted and each puff of breeze sets off a cascade of falling leaves. Standing on a hardwood ridge, you can see a montage of nature’s colors. I, along with two good friends and a pair of the best turkey dogs that ever lived, stood on an Appalachian ridge one late-October morning. One friend mentioned that I had that “far-away look” in my eyes. He was right; I had decided this morning that numerous changes had to be made in my life.
We tend to take for granted the things that are present in our everyday lives and gradually forget about things that are no longer available to us. The two things that triggered me on that morning were, the smell of frost and autumn leaves. Yeah, I can smell frost, you can, too, if you really try. For most of the two previous decades, I had either been in the swamps of the Deep South, or the salt-marshes of Delmarva. I didn’t know how much I missed Appalachian autumns, until that morning. Maybe the pre-dawn climb to the top of the mountain cleared the marsh mud and the turpentine odor of loblolly pines from my olfactory system. I do not know, but something happened to me on that day. Within a year, I was living back in the hardwood hills.
The next time you are on a mountain stream, take time to enjoy the aroma of crushed hemlock and ferns. Bow your head for all of people in this world, who have never smelled freshly mowed grass or a hayfield. Think about the summer air after a brief evening thunderstorm. Can you smell the breeze? It is more pleasing than exhaust and asphalt isn’t it? Take the time to become more aware of your surroundings; you never know what you will miss, until it is gone. Notice the earthy aromas of morels and fresh compost. Picture in your mind a hillside covered with black locust in the late-spring. Now breathe.
I have never thought that the sweet aroma of ramps was disagreeable. The smell of ramps, bacon and fried potatoes drifting from a streamside campsite is a sure sign of spring in the mountains. We have heard the statement every year, at the post office or country store, that a certain person really is unpleasant during the ramp consumption season. The truth is, they probably didn’t smell real good prior to eating their wild leeks. Give credit where credit is due.
I may be strange, but I like a hint of distant skunk in the breeze, it has a sticky-sweet pleasant aroma, from afar. Take the time to be aware of the surroundings that are too often taken for granted. You have heard it before, “Wake up and smell the roses.” It may rejuvenate your life.
This article first appeared in Two-Lane Livin/Oct 09.
(c) Randy Bodkins all rights reserved 2009