When I walked Biscuit this evening at about 7 P.M. I had the chance to experience again one of the interesting atmospheric effects associated with living on a hill. We live at the top of a hill, and a turn to the right or the left on the sidewalk takes me downhill in either direction. The temperature at 7 P.M. was an improbable 61 degrees F – especially improbably when I consider that only a few days ago we were experiencing the coldest day since last winter, a day during which the temperature did not rise above the freezing point all day.
So it was a pleasure to leave the house and step out into a relatively balmy temperature. It was at a point about half way down the hill that the atmospheric effect alluded to above became apparent. We passed through the place where the warm air mass was layered over a colder air mass. That in itself is interesting to me, but there is another aspect of this which is notable: at the point where my face passes the level where the two air masses meet, there are always distinctive and pronounced odors apparent. Often this is the fragrance of soil itself, or more frequently (as it was tonight) the odor of the creek water. On a couple of late summer evenings it’s been the fragrance of the kudzu blooms – those are evenings to remember!
The same effect takes place in the house. When I go up or down the basement stairs, there is a point where I pass the “aroma level” – in this case typically an enhanced version of whatever I have been cooking.
As winter is coming to an end, the most poignant of these odors is the fragrance of defrosting soil after the frozen months of denial.