I Can Smell Spring

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One of the things that gives me enormous pleasure is seeing the face of people as they discover a smell they weren’t expecting; the whole body is involved as olfactors stoop, bend and stretch. You can see the sense of possibility expand in their being. Both culture and expectation weigh heavy on a city’s smellscape, so it’s lucky I’m not attached to any particular one at the moment. But at this present time I live in New York, and I can smell spring. I was in Beacon – a small town that hugs the Hudson – on the weekend and I caught a tangible odor of promise (literal) and then lyrical – the smell of history embedded in the surrounding architecture. The air was sweet and billowy and it got me excited. Even with semi-forlorn trees and buds that hadn’t yet sprung, the sense of the earth getting ready to blossom again felt palpably wondrous. Growing up in a city as contained as London didn’t seem conducive to being able to appreciate a seasons’ overflowing, but my family brought South Africa with them – barbecues, crocuses, daffodils, passion fruit juice and soul food. They brought their strong accents and multiplicity of tongues, their histories from Eastern Europe mingled with generous dollops of fortuity. Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite time of the year wherever I may be walking.


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