the smell of rain
the smell of
Hugs between friends last a bit longer this time of year; while caffeine and chocolate consumption climbs. It’s not winter. It’s the in between time. The waiting. The last foot of snow. The slow melt.
Those of us who can’t leave, head east to Brattleboro, where a 10 mile difference makes for grass. Like winter refugees, we soak up their signs of spring; our lives held hostage by a hill. By mud. By a home. By a family to whom we’re expected to return, and to make dinner and small talk; when what we really want to do is drive south. And never stop.
(I can’t go. I can’t go. I can’t. Right? Even if friends post beach weather just 300 miles away. )
My husband suggests that I work down in Brattleboro this week. “It’s supposed to be sixties in town,” he says. “It will only make it to about 50 up here.”
I add another piece of wood to the stove and try to settle in with a cup of tea; but my mind is as itchy and inflamed as my skin; desperate to shed winter’s wool.
I look outside and note the increasing signs–the green cap of the septic tank, the garden beds, the dry patches of dead grass–indicating land in what has been a sea of snow. Despite this welcome melting, winter continues to trump spring; white beats brown; and my glass is half-empty, and leaking.
“Why don’t we go down to Brattleboro now,” my husband says.
Though it sounds like a booby prize to the beach, I reluctantly get dressed so that he and I can walk the streets downtown, without boots, and drift into shops, and join an event at the River Garden center which sits on the Connecticut and has a glass roof that lets in lots of light.
There we find live music and hot chai and loads of desserts and fellow refugees from up the hill. I hug one too long, as if holding on; and then I dash back toward the front entrance. Toward a sudden and unexpected rain. Not rain on snow which is a sad, sad thing. But rain on earth. And rain on roads. And rain on sidewalks and rooftops–and us.
Just as the sky really lets loose, the sun bursts onto the scene–with a rainbow–stretching across the Connecticut and touching down at the foot of Mt. Wantastiquet. People flock out the back exit onto the deck to see the promise of color; because even though Brattleboro has lost its snow, it is stalled in monochrome.
One man turns toward me, beaming, noting the sweet smell.
“Don’t you love it,” I say, restraining myself from embracing him.
“I smelled it this morning too,” he continues. “Up at our place where there’s still a foot of snow.”
“Two feet,” his wife counters.
“But it smelled like rain, even without earth,” he says.
I smile. And sniff. And consider the different scents that come with rain; and wonder if it has its own.
I walk back to the front entrance and smell the sidewalks and the road. I return to the deck and smell the wood and the earth and the river. I finish back at the road and stay there awhile because it takes me to my childhood. To rain on hot tar in Virginia. Lying face down in the road so that I could soak up every ounce of that delicious, fresh scent before the sun smoked it away.
We linger past the rain, and into the evening at the River Garden, and when we finally head home, into the hills of snow, I feel freer. I decide to stay put. To be here to bear witness to my own spring’s emergence–to the return of our very first Robin; and even more beholding–to the appearance of a baseball–tribute to the life once lived–right here–where it shall return again.
Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, VT, April 8, 2013