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Dirt [Aug. 18th, 2003|05:13 am]
The air smells like dirt tonight. Dry dirt. I can smell it even in the house, but outside it is quite strong. It is unlikely that anyone is digging in the middle of the night. Could this be another of those phantom smells I periodically detect? If so, it is a departure from their usual spicy, floral or fruity natures.

This one summons some rare images, though; turning the earth for my first garden on a warm, dry spring day when I was seven years old; sliding into home on the baseball diamond at Garvey School; dragging a hoe through the powdery brown soil in the back yard of our first house as I made a network of roads for my toy cars; the puffs of dust rising from the tracks of shot marbles where we played in the shade of the pepper tree on long summer afternoons, and, later, larger puffs of that dust exploding from the knees of our pants as we slapped them more-or-less clean; being caught in a dust devil, after chasing it down, and sometimes having to squeeze my eyes shut against the grit while feeling it swirl around me, and other times having it break from my presence and the dust settle to the ground at my feet.

It is the smell of the warmed surface of the earth, different from the smell of dampened soil and from the smell of a deep hole. It is the smell of erosion, and slow change, and of vanished, ancient things.