Friday, November 22, 2019
This is a funny time of year here in Minnesota. It is not embraced by many. Grey nearly all the time, sometimes the temperatures drop into the bottom of the teens and snow falls from the sky. Ice forms on the roads. Bitter winds blow. And the rakish fops say:
"How do you like this? It's still a month before Winter even starts. Ha!"
But you wonder: How can this be Fall?
It can't possibly be Fall.
And then the cold relents. It gets so misty out that one can't even see down into the Mississippi River Gorge. The scattered inch or two of snow and ice vanishes into a great dampness everywhere, and one realizes it really is still Autumn, in it's peculiar, late way. There genuinely is a steady progression from Summer to Winter, secreted between the blizzards, and this is what it looks like. Strange fruits hang from out of bare and dead-leafed trees, rotting. Gouts of ravaged, soaked leaves are piled up in the underbrush turning to slime, the wild places tucked into the city are a tattered tableau as the very world around us breaks down.
And then there's the smell.
Above all it's the smell.
It's not everywhere, but it's not hard to find. I don't know how to describe it. I suppose it is made of all the ragged matter, all the leaves and branches and cold fruits long past their expiration, rotting, battered by the brutal, altering freezes and thaws, the incessant wetness, all being packed together and forgotten. It is a smell that rises out of the riverway valley, out of the gutters, the collapsed flowerbeds, and the treed borderlands lining the bike and walking paths of my city. It is a rotten smell, of death and decay. It is the smell of things turning, of funk, and of mold. I don't think the smell has any name to know it by. I can't quite conjure this smell to mind, it is strangely unimaginable. But it is full of adjectives and description: putrid, rotted, festering, corrupt, spoiled, decomposing. It is a heady smell, oddly fresh in its rancid way, wine gone too far, dark mushrooms, the secrets of the earth. Death.
I quite like it, and seek its heart, like an appealing pain of which I want to see how much I can take; An exquisite and repulsive morbidity, and yet, the last living breath of a doomed thing before real death, and Winter.