Spring bursts over Tennessee suddenly, like someone pushed a trigger and life explodes around us. Our winters are mild and very tentative most times. There may be only one or two storms a year that blanket our rolling hills with white, and even then, the covering is usually thinner than half an inch. Winter is a time punctuated by inconsistency. It may be so desperately cold one day that a person must wear their winter coats inside only to be followed by a day in shorts and flip flops.

When I look out the window and see the tender green sprouts start to shoot out from underneath the brown Bermuda grass there is a sense of hope. There is a general feeling of renewal and rebirth in spring that you don’t feel any other time a year. Spring is the season of life before the burning summer sun scorches the dry earth into submission.

Though I stand under the cool winter night now, soon I will lounge out in the warm sun, feel the rays soak into my pale, sunshine-starved skin. It won’t be too hot yet and the sunlight won’t meet my face and decide to sting it red as a reprimand for slinking around inside for the last six months. I do enjoy the look of spring, and the warmth of the nearing equinox driving away the shivering of Polar Vortexes that have frozen the land for the last few months. Spring has a certain energy about it, like you can almost feel the thrumming of life vibrate the air, thickening and intensifying with each passing day. Soon the world will burst with color, the dry twigs on the dogwood trees suddenly erupting with crimson flowers and the shoots of thousands of bright yellow daffodils will claw through the earth and bask in the sun.

The streams will gurgle with fresh spring showers as the lifeless yards of suburbia will be transformed into a hive of desperate activity as bags of fertilizer and seeds fill every minivan. Children will begin protesting attempts by their mothers to make them wear jackets outside and will most certainly catch the plague as a result. Millions of allergy sufferers across the nation will feel their hearts seize in terror as they now must face the dreaded spring allergies with all the stuffy noses, hacking coughs, and loud sneezing such a season entails. College students embark on their week of debauchery and/or studying. Easter paraphernalia has long since invaded all the stores; as soon as the Christmas supplies are shelved, out come the bunny-shaped chocolates. People emerge from the darkness of their winter caves and begin spring cleaning. The world is awake with optimism and activity.

Winter and all its worries melt away like the snow. A fresh new feeling takes root in the heart. The slumbering stumbling in the dark is over and it is time to step out into the sun again, regain your consciousness. The world is stirring with action and it is time for you to flurry with life once more. The sun is bright and the air is thick and it is time to move and leave the winter nights behind.

I take one last sad glance at the darkened winter sky, so clear and cold, the stars shining out through the thin bracing air with a certain clarity that cannot be paralleled. They look like someone’s taken a bag full of diamonds and flung them across velvet. Winter is confining but freeing in a strange sort of comforting way. Nothing is immediate and everything seems to slow down when the air is frozen.

But spring is here and life must move on. It is time to leave the mysterious winter stars and let the sun rise over the world, bringing with it the hustle of spring.


Boca's Nose Knows

The sciencey people say that smell (usually regarded as a sense that is kind of marginal in importance) is actually the most evocative of human sensory faculties, subconsciously tying memories and experiences through the power of odor. Take the smell of vanilla, it might kindle long forgotten recollections of a summer day baking chocolate chip cookies with Grandma while bright sunlight streamed through lattice glass windows. Or perhaps an acrid whiff of gasoline stirs images of family road trips, siblings being pressed together in hot and muggy cars at gas stations with eager smiles for an ocean sighting in the future. Smell is integral to our perception of our world and our storing of distant but consequential memories of our existence, a way to shortcut to deeply embedded files in the harddrive of the human brain.

Smell is a way we subliminally categorize our world.
Unfortunately, due to a inauspicious combination of violently belligerent allergies and a nasal passage that was mutated to disallow air passage in one nostril, I am not only a radical mouthbreather, but I also am unable to smell.

Now when I say that I cannot smell, I mean it in the sense that it is like the world is covered in several layers of thick wool blankets. I can only detect the most powerful of smells, vanilla and gasoline being among the tiny handful of scents I can perceive through the dense fog of hyposmia. Its kind of funny that my mother is a bona-fide Super-Sniffer who can detect even the most infinitesimal of odors with her finely tuned schnoz. I guess the super-sniffer trait is recessive.

Anyway, I never really noticed that my lack of smell was so pronounced until I took this corticosteriod medicine for a week before I had to get allergy shots and suddenly, I could smell. To put it in perspective, I was like the blind man Jesus healed who had never seen before and for the first time ever could discern the visual world. Well for that week, my eyes (or in this case, nasal passages) were open and I could discern the multitude of odors that made up our subliminal world.

It was a revelation. My friends thought I was insane when I ran up to them with a feverish look in my eyes and shoved Skittles in their faces as I blathered on about how Skittles actually smelled like their respective fruit and I could finally understand the complaints of my classmates when they protested about the reek of formaldehyde in the biology classrooms. I suddenly could catch a whiff of cranberries and be immediately transported back to Thanksgiving where I got my first bike. It was wonderful!

But like all good things, my week of olfactory excellence, came to an end, and a day of the medicine, I was back to my cloud of allergies and all the fragrances of the world were stifled under mucus and pollen. I was very bummed about that, but then I realized that I could see, and hear, and touch. I laughed at my good fortune of being born with a pair of eyes and ears that could hear. As evocative as smell is, I’d never trade it for the ability to see a sunset, or hear a sonata. I thank God for making me the way he did and I have no right to ever complain!