A Whiff of Memories

As we grow through the various stages of our lives, we develop a memory of aromas.  Over time, our experiences accumulate and a familiar fragrance or aroma causes a reaction in our minds, invoking a memory or making us aware of something with which we are acquainted.

Those of us from New England are intimately familiar with the smell of snow, a certain aromatic essence in the air, predicting its imminent arrival.  It may be true in other areas of the world but certainly familiar to us here.

Soon, we all hope, we will be able to enjoy the smell of spring.  The emerging buds of the trees, early blooming flowers, grass returning to a vibrant growing green, the aroma of a warm sun.

Human beings are visual creatures; we rely on our vision more than any other sense.  Those among us that are blind need to rely more on the other senses.  Yet, we all have the ability to use them; we often do it without realizing it.

For me, the smell of approaching snow brings mixed feelings.  As a native New Englander, I think we suffer if we are too long separated from four seasons, no matter how much we may complain.

I am guilty of fleeing winter more frequently as I have grown older, my tolerance for cold weather diminishing with age.  Nevertheless, there is something integrated deep within my psyche that needs a little of each season and the associated smells differentiating them.

The smells of a recent rain, freshly mowed grass, flowers in bloom, the ocean mist, all of these enhancing our experiences here in this world.

Just the hint of any of them, brings forth memories of other days, other storms, other walks in the rain, other moments of rolling in fallen leaves, riding waves, sliding sleds down snow covered hills.

Like most of you, I am ready for the smells of winter to fade away for now. Let the new, yet familiar, aromas of spring take over.  I look forward to that first feeling of a warm sun on my face, as I smell the emerging new growth pushing out of the ground.

I know that the pattern will remain; the one I have come to know so well.  The rains of spring, followed by the grass and beaches of summer, the changing leaves of fall, and the return of those first hints of snow repeating itself once again.

While we may be tired of the hazy shade of winter, to borrow a line from Paul Simon, ready to move on to spring, keep in mind those aromas of the seasons. I hope we all have any more winters to complain about, many more aromas of approaching storms.  Inhale them, savor them, and hold their memories because the winter of our human life marks a real end without the chance of a following spring.

Sleeping in Hell

If there is someone you truly dislike, wish for them a night in an airport during a blizzard, Baltimore, Chicago, or any large airport preferably.

The noises at night, snoring, crying, screaming, laughing, or complaining, coupled with the cleaning crews locking ALL restrooms (no changing of the plan regardless of the conditions), testing alarms, and leaving EVERY light on, make for an unforgettable experience.

Then there are the children.

I feel the pain of anyone traveling with small children, compound that with being stuck with them, overnight, bleak hope of getting out anytime soon, and they probably wish infertility was their biggest concern.

I have a solution, ban them. NO kids allowed to travel. Let them drive so the parents, grandparents, keepers can enjoy their hell privately. Just kidding, but maybe adult-only airport terminals might work!

As I write this, we are in the middle of what looks like (at a minimum) a 26 hour layover (yes 26, twenty-six, not 2.6) in Baltimore. Layover is too nice a term, involuntary incarceration is more accurate.

Parts were amusing, the aviation experts (who’s sum total of aviation experience came from riding in the back of planes, not flying them) sounding off about how the conditions aren’t that bad, I remember the old days when airlines flew in much worse than this, blah, blah, blah.

Or, the ones who come off a plane brought back to the gate after sitting for an hour and a half on the tarmac (along with 50 other flights), cheerfully calling for hotel reservations, then screaming because (lo and behold) every hotel from here to DC is sold out.

Or, the ones screaming at the Customer Service Agents that, despite the fight cancellation being outside the airline’s control, they MUST provide a room (see above).Having been on the other side of that counter for Southwest Airlines, I can tell you the agents want you on the plane and gone more than you do!

But we adapted. We’ve slept in mice-infested, smoke smelling, freezing shelters on the Appalachian Trail filled with hikers that haven’t showered in five days…

Oh, how I miss that luxury…anything is better than this.

If Dante needs a Tenth Ring of Hell, add a night in an Airport terminal.