Sweet Scent of Autumn

I think a lot of people underestimate in the power of scent. Last week was humid, then wet, for the first time in a month, and it brought a melange of scents out of the land, sweet, rich, and water-rich. The northeast wind brought moisture as well as grass scent, flowing over the broken pasture land to the north and carrying the perfume of sweetgrass into town.

Imagine, if you will, standing at the edge of a low area, a playa basin, in high autumn. The sky is clear but pale, a sign of the water flowing in with the wind. Perhaps, below the whisper and rustling sound of the wind, you hear a burbling, trilling call from somewhere overhead. The sandhill cranes are moving south, flying down the continent to their winter grounds. The wind feels cool and soft, if you could run your fingers through you sense it might wring out drops of water if you squeezed hard enough. And it carries scent, a rich perfume of the land.

The brown, tan, and reddish grasses around you give scent to the wind. As they rustle and hiss in the passing air, they release a sweetness. Earthiness too, not like soil in rain in summer, but full and round and furry, if scent can be furry, rich with life and promise. it is a good smell, instinctively you know that it means fullness and harvest and growth, perhaps now, perhaps in the future. It satisfies like a good meal, filling the senses and satiating the nose with complexity and warmth. The temperature is cool despite the sun, but the wind smells warm and sweet, a mellow blend of earth and grass and water and spicy life.

Cottonwoods are sour and sharp. Old tallgrass can be rank and bitter, especially if it burns wet. But the sweet autumn shortgrass, ah, that is a wonder. If dry, then hard dust fills the air, choking thick at times, But not today. No, today bears the promise of moisture, of rain to close the season and put a good year into the ground (if you are not a cotton farmer with bolls still on the plant). The cool, soft wind carries a promise with the scents, whispering to the grass of hope for rain, of heavy dew and fog so thing that the sun never really rises. Geese and ducks sleep in, and the high warble of cranes, one of the most ancient songs of the plains, passes overhead, the singers unseen in the mist.

The land wears a tawny fur of autumn.

And it is good.playalake-usfws

 

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