Friday, June 26, 2009

Smells of the Sunrise

Let's call this a compilation from a week of 6:00 AM walks. A compilation of odors, of scents, of smells. They may not all be pleasant, but they do help you come along with me on my four-mile "power stroll" around the neighborhood, so lace up your walking shoes and come along.

First, there's the musty, old shoe smell of my stairwell when I open the door in the morning. If I leave it open at night to the rest of the townhouse, then all the cool air flows right down by the front door and I'm left hot and miserable upstairs. (Cursed physics, making hot air rise and cool air flee my second-floor home!) And since my walking shoes are sitting right there by that front door, they contribute their own staleness to the heated atmosphere that develops when the high humidity and high heat combine within a small space. I open the front door for a touch of fresher air while I sit on the bottom step and pull the shoes on.

Now we'll step outside. Most days, the lawn sprinklers have just finished their morning duties--except for Wednesday, when I got a squirt across the back which actually felt quite good! The grass smells fresh, newly-cut if it's Friday, as it was this morning. After the mustiness of the stairwell, the smells of my porch are an added inducement to move on into the day. I stride out down the driveway, into the neighborhood streets.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are trash days in the areas through which I walk. Early-bird dumpsters are already out along the curb, and some of them are rank enough to make me want to look in them to see just what kinds of trash can produce such odors. Alm

Image via WikipediaPhilippe de Champaigne (1602-1674): Still-Life...

ost enough to make me. What do these people throw away, week-dead skunks??

My walk carries me down next to the Smoky Hill, a brown, slow-flowing sludge of a river. Occasionally, the odoriferous offerings of a dead fish contribute to the morning ambiance, but I'm usually past that fairly quickly. The odor of death reminds me in part of why I walk, in order to put off my own passing by keeping myself healthy. It also spurs me to stretch out my strides so I pass that particular spot more quickly! The river has its own smell, composed of the fish, yes, but also of the water itself. It's not the refreshing smell you might think of with a river, but it's not unpleasant. Wet, damp and dank, nature's smell.

Speaking of skunks--just look back one paragraph if you've forgotten already--I've only encountered that strangely alluring sweet smell one time this week. It wasn't strong, so either the skunk was some distance away, or the dog it squirted ran home right away. In fact, the odor was just light enough to be almost pleasant. I've never minded the smell of a skunk, even when it was strong, as long as I was in a car and not bathing a pet in tomato juice! The weaker odor, I rather like for some reason which I can't quite explain, so I won't even try. . .

After I've completed about three of my four miles, my shirt is nicely soaked with sweat, and I'm starting to smell myself. It's not a pleasant smell, though this morning, it was mingled with a hint of chlorine from last evening's short swim, which made it somewhat more bearable. Of course, I don't take my daily shower until after the walk, so this natural, human scent accompanies me every day. Oh, it's not too strong--none of the dogs I've ever passed have run off howling, at least! Plus, it's a sign of exertion, of honest exercise. And if the breeze ever comes back to the state named after the People of the South Wind, that smell is wafted away quickly and pleasantly by a cooling draft of morning air.

Back at home, the stairwell is cooler now, and fresher, since I've left the upper door open while I was out, allowing the air conditioning to work its wonders. I take off my shoes and socks, pull my drenched shirt over my head, and make for the shower, where I'll enjoy the knowledge that I've walked off a few calories in the past hour.
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