It’s hard to describe the smell as anything other than green. It’s not for lack of vocabulary, or fear of being unclear. It’s because that smell there in the corridor between the bog and the stand of trees is green.
Pine-scented? No. Mould? No. Growing grass? No. Green, goddamnit, green.
The green of that early spring morning in 1987, in the backyard of the old house, kneeling in the dewy lawn and staring at the stark contrast between the newness of the big plastic toy Millenium Falcon and the outside world. You ever notice that? When you take some brand-new, clean artifical thing into the outdoors and look at it, how alien it seems? How it stands out? That contrast, once more overwhelming my still-developing 12 year-old senses. And the smell. The smell of green.
A cold shadow draped the backyard that morning, cast by the seperate garage where my parents parked their Ranchero. That was a beautiful vehicle, even if the seats could burn the backs of your naked thighs in high summer, and woe unto you if a white-hot steel seatbelt clasp made contact with that sensitive flesh. It only seated 3 on its single bench seat, and whenever possible my brother rode bitch. It wasn’t because he was one, he just liked sitting in the middle. One rainy night a few years later we’d get rear-ended by a drunk driver. If we’d been hit with just a little more force we’d have been pushed into the busy intersection we were stopped at, likely causing serious injury or death. I remember mom shooting her arm across the two of us, an extra meat-belt that would’ve provided zero protection, but it was something she did on instinct. The Ranchero’d been a write-off, and I mourned that fact much later in life when I knew more about cars; the dead truck had been only a year away from becoming officially “classic”.
My bike tires crunch the gravel on the corridor floor and I’m through the cold air and into warmer, brighter atmosphere. The smell is gone, taking with it the vivid memories of an age long past, leaving me to focus on the overwhelming pressure of the present. I take a deep breath, and ride on.