Scents of the season

16 03 2016

For the first time in more than two weeks, it felt like spring.

It also smelled like spring.

Riding in the countryside is an olfactory bombardment. Your nose is a constant target for the scents and smells of the season that you might not otherwise appreciate in the sealed cocoon of a car, whizzing past the flooded fields and swampy ditches faster than the speed of odours.

The farm fields smell of rotting vegetation, mucky water and acrid manure.

The farm fields smell of rotting vegetation, mucky water and acrid manure.

The sweet stench of broken corn stocks rotting in the muck, decomposing to replenish the soil with nutrients. The acrid stink of liquid manure being spread as fertilizer. The pungent sting of a dead skunk, somewhere up the road.

There’s good smells too. The ornamental cherry and magnolia trees are blossoming. Early flowers like daffodils, tulips and crocuses have already burst from gardens and random roadside patches.

As we near the ocean into a stiff headwind, the breeze is briny. The open receiving door of a passing fish processor enhances the seaside illusion. Then it’s overwhelmed by the muskiness of fresh-cut wood from a lumber yard a few doors down. Across the street, a homeowner is cutting his lawn with a riding tractor, previewing the season to come with that ultimate suburban scent of fresh-cut grass.

We pass a small forklift, transferring between work sites; our noses are assaulted by the smell of burning oil and hot grease.

A road works project kicks up the smells of dry dirt and cut stone as a giant blade saws through the pavement. Just past that, we stop at a coffee shop to sit out front; the blankets folded in each wicker chair smell of the sun.

There’s still four days left in winter. But on the bike, our noses tell us the season has already changed.