Thursday, August 15, 2013
Story of a smell
I first found the smell as a teenager, hiking on the dry mountain paths in the Sierras. I thought maybe some pop tarts broke in my pack, or fell from someone else's pack and was ground into the mountain granite by hikers' boots and the hooves of horses. It puzzled me for hours, maybe for multiple backpacking trips in that time of my life. I wasn't sure about liking a smell of pop tarts in the wild. I waited.
Somewhere in there, after spotting enough dead things, after seeing enough things decomposing in the high dry air I pieced it together. This is the sweet, pop tart smell of decay. I don't know how I feel about liking the smell of something rotting, so I set that aside. I set it aside for decades and decades. I set it aside without knowing I had, through hundreds of encounters, thousands.
Yesterday I am walking with my wife on the Superior Hiking Trail. It is a dry north woods forest path and I smell it. I smell the sweet pop tart smell of decay. I think "There is that smell. There is that pop tart smell." And then suddenly, after 30 years, it comes to me:
I love that smell!