"Sweetly Breathing, Vernal Air"
Justin loved the springtime for
its ever-changing palette of smells.
He loved the first perfume of daffodils
and later on the heavy scent of hyacinths.
Apricot trees were the first to bloom,
followed by the thickets of wild plum.
Fragrant sumac floated from the forests.
Farmers plowed the fields,
releasing the smell of
Food vendors brought out
their carts, supplementing
the year-round food trucks.
A mouth-watering aroma
attracted Justin to a food cart
where the cook would make
fried rice with your choice of
fresh spring vegetables.
Turq was already there,
but he sidled out of the way
as soon as Justin approached.
"Go on and get your lunch, Turq,
I can wait my turn," Justin said.
Turq was still a little skittish of him
after Justin had accidentally spooked him,
but they were working through that.
"I'm not buying, just ... browsing,"
Turq said. "It smelled so good,
I had to come take a look."
"Well, why don't you let me
buy you lunch?" Justin offered.
He knew that Turq couldn't
always afford to eat.
"I don't want to put you
to any trouble," Turq said,
but he was licking his lips.
"No trouble at all,"
Justin assured him.
That was all it took.
They placed their orders,
and soon had heaping plates
of fried rice with asparagus,
green onions, and baby peas
topped with a fried egg.
Turq wolfed down his serving
with a speed that made Justin
wonder if he'd gotten breakfast.
"How are you doing?" Justin asked.
Turq regarded him with wide eyes.
"Okay, I guess," he said softly.
"Enjoying the fine spring weather?"
Justin said, trying to keep the tone
firmly in small talk rather than interrogation.
"Yeah, it's nice out," Turq said. "I like
walking around and smelling all the flowers."
"So do I," Justin said. There weren't
many people he could talk about smells with,
and he treasured every one of them. "I like
to go around the sidewalk gardens and
find out what's blooming each day."
Turq smiled. "We planted daffodils
and tulips last fall," he said. "Now
they're blooming, and the wild plums
in the woods are starting to open."
"Oh, those make the best jam,"
Justin said. "Janie and Celia
get together to make some."
"It sounds good," Turq said.
"I like how the flowers smell.
I haven't had the fruit."
"It's small and tart compared
to supermarket plums, but I
like the wild kind better,"
Justin explained to him.
"Cool," said Turq. "I like
spring. It's so alive."
"Sweetly breathing, vernal air,
That with kind warmth doth repair
Winter's ruins ..." Justin recited,
the familiar poem spooling out
like scent from a blooming tree.
"Wow," Turq said. "That's beautiful."
"It's a poem by Thomas Carew,"
Justin said. "I enjoy verses that
talk about how things smell. It
makes them more real to me."
"Me too," Turq said, looking down
at his almost-empty plate.
Justin scooped up the last
of his egg and a few peas.
"It's okay to sniff things, Turq,
as long as you don't pester folks,"
Justin said. "Some of us just
tend to think with our noses."
"Yeah," Turq said. "It helps me
remember where and when I am."
"Come on, let's go for a walk,"
Justin said as he scooped up
the two paper plates to toss
into the compost bin. "I can
show you where to find some
of the best front gardens."
Turq looked away, then
looked back. "Okay."
As they walked, Justin
could hear him muttering,
"Sweetly breathing, verdant ..."
"Vernal," Justin corrected.
"Sweetly breathing, vernal air.
Do you want to learn the poem?"
"Yes, please," Turq said. "I used
to like memorizing things. It's harder
now, but it's supposed to help me
get my memory back in shape."
"It's good for that," Justin agreed.
He patiently recited the poem
until Turq knew it by heart.
"Thanks," Turq said. "It's
nice of you to take the time."
"I like to help people," Justin said.
"That's why I became a police officer."
Then he noticed Turq slowing down
as they passed a purple-leaf plum tree,
its branches so thick with pink flowers
that the tiny leaves were almost hidden.
"Would you like to sit for a while?"
Justin asked. "There's a bench."
So they sat under the blooming tree
and breathed in its salty-sweet scent.
Turq leaned back, his head tilting
almost upside-down, drunk
on the heady fragrance.
Justin smiled. It was nice
to spend time with people who
perceived the world the way you did.
* * *
"Sweetly breathing , vernal air,
That with kind warmth doth repair
Winter's ruins; from whose breast
All the gums and spice of the East
Borrow their perfumes; whose eye
Gilds the morn, and clears the sky."
-- Thomas Carew, 1595 - 1645
Taste and smell are basically two aspects of the same sense, as they use the same type of receptors. Olfactory/gustatory learners have the least common learning mode and often encounter prejudice in society. Stimulate the senses with activities for taste and smell. This encourages everyone to use all their senses, as well as including people who learn best through these avenues.
Read about the blooming sequence of flowers and trees in Missouri.
Enjoy Fried Rice with Spring Vegetables and Fried Eggs.
A sidewalk garden adds appeal to a neighborhood. Some cities have programs for that, such as this one from San Francisco. When planting a sidewalk garden it is prudent to choose low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, and/or native plants.
Wild plums are delicious in many recipes.
Compostable paper plates come in various styles. Learn how to compost paper plates at home. In Terramagne-America, many restaurants have a compost bin, and there may also be municipal ones. This drastically reduces landfill waste. Composting services are often supported by local taxes and thus the resulting compost is free to residents. Read some tips on how to compost at your restaurant or other business.
Memorization is good for the brain. Memorizing poetry, like playing music, can soothe PTSD symptoms and promote healing of this and other brain injuries. This used to be a thriving part of society, but has fallen out of practice in L-America. In T-America it is still fairly popular, and you'll often see businesses offer a perk to citizens who can recite a given item. Learn how to memorize a poem. Having a friend recite it over and over again while you walk is not listed, but certainly works.
The purple-leaf plum tree has lovely leaves, flowers, and fruit. This is the one in Bluehill.
Sidewalk benches make a community more walkable and improve health. T-America has benches all over the place, one of many practices that encourage people to walk and socialize with each other. Check out these nifty benches.