March 1st, 2015

caillebotte_man at his window


The night air smells like cold, with overtones of grass and pine resin, damp wood and soil, last year's musty, decayed vegetation— but mostly it smells like the ground's cold sweat, as though the earth were having a disturbing dream from which it couldn't wake. Maybe it is. Maybe it is having a nightmare of the coming summer when it dries deep and fills with dying roots of the plants it can't feed. Or maybe it dreams of the snow that never came this year and it is chilled without its white blanket, the chill leaving it uneasy. Or perhaps it dreams of quaking, of being filled with shudders at some deep horror of which we on its surface know nothing.

Whatever the cause, the smell of it pervades the placid night, hanging in the still air like an olfactory omen. I can't see them now but I remember the new leaves on the oaks as I saw them today, some pale green and others drooping and slightly brown, perhaps damaged by the recent colder nights. It is too late now for snow, for should it come many of spring's premature leaves would surely be killed. Even as it is the foliage might be diminished this year, giving less shade when the torrid summer days arrive. The snow, though sorely missed, must not come late. It will not be welcome now, doomed as it would be to bring only a threat of summer made even worse by the damage it would do.

Inhaling the chill I watch the stars, which are paled by the waxing moon that has not yet descended among the trees. The night is cold enough that my own exhalations are visible as a thin vapor lit by the moon's light. The entire world seems to be exhaling tonight, though only I leave this visible trace. The air seems ancient, worn. I watch the shadows of the trees creep east and regret the snow that never came. I try to remember how snow smells, but can't. The cold sweat overpowers even memory.

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