August Fragrance

My car stunk of shit when I arrived in Vermont’s capital city Friday afternoon, the debris from an enormous manure spreader I’d passed on a dirt road in Calais jammed in the undercarriage. Add to that, the fat stalk of garlic I’d nabbed from the school’s garden. I’d tugged it out to see how near (or late) to picking it was, and the pearly head, beneath the crumbling dirt I’d thumbed off, smelled so fragrantly delicious I decided to bring it home for dinner. Manure, garlic, and someone’s running shoes left in the backseat.

This past month, fierce thunderstorms have deluged us, and our piece of Vermont fluctuates between sodden and freshly-dried, smelling of wild blackberry vines and the pine bark mulch I gleaned from the town garage. Yesterday afternoon, my weeding interrupted, I read Adam Gopnik’s line in his article about Buddhism in The New Yorker – “…the things we cherish inevitably change and rot…” – which is likely the entire, unvarnished sum of human suffering.

The kids complained about the co-mixture of odors in the car – naturally. And, inevitably, I laughed off those complaints. Even with this early morning rain, I think we’ll swim today.

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