So close I can smell it


Last week, the calendar promised spring would begin,
and I wasn’t going to let a silly thing like snow get
in the way.
With Jillian strapped safely in her car seat, I
hightailed it down River Road in Callicoon looking for
proof.
The thing is, I have my own recipe for beating the
winter blues.
The robins and the daffodils play their part, but
there’s nothing like that first drive down the River
Road with my windows open wide.
It isn’t officially spring in my book until I’ve
smelled it on the river.
It’s something you can only understand if you spent at
least four seasons living beside the water; and I
spent the first 17 years of my life in the same house
where my parents live, overlooking the Delaware.
I can distinguish the roar exclusive to the ice “going
out,” the day the giant sheet of frozen water finally
melts down to the point where it breaks apart with a
raucous cracking noise that echoes down the valley.
Just weeks later, spring will arrive in Sullivan
County.
Just past the post office, I dropped all four windows
with a flick of the automatic buttons on my door, and
I drank it in.
It’s a smell no perfumer in the world would want to
bottle – who wants to wear something that’s equal
parts dirt, mold and damp?
The candle companies and air freshener makers fuse
light flower fragrances and label them “slightly
spring” or “mountain fresh,” but they can’t come
close.
My spring, the spring of childhoods spent making forts
on the riverbank and bicycling at top speed down a
back road high on the freedom of no more winter, is a
heady mixture of rain, fusty soil and tangy cow
manure.
Even the scent of wet dog sends a thrill through my
spine; it calls to mind silly teenage shrieks of faux
fear as my parents’ dog Bingo came darting up from the
riverbank and stood to shake out his coat, covering me
in fur and water droplets.
Even Bingo could tell it was spring last week.
He greeted me as I climbed from my car, smearing mud
on my jeans as his old body tried to make that
familiar jump to kiss my face.
He made a grab for the milk bones I proffered and
bounded off, dropping one alongside the remainder of
the snow while he made fast work of the other.
He’s already abandoned his favorite outdoor hiding
place – the warm spot in an alcove beneath the
bathroom. Instead he lay in the center of the
driveway, basking in the warmth of the sun.
Mother Nature no doubt has a few more tricks up her
sleeve. She’ll hide the sun and send in the wind, but
spring is around here, somewhere.
I know. I’ve smelled it.

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