Life Stinks, and Other Pleasantries

Yesterday was not my best day. Not a people day at all, as my friend Minnie used to say. I haven't been sleeping well, and the night before last I had strange dreams, in which initially fun activities ground slowly to a halt, and I was powerless to resume them. I woke, and felt like a stiff breeze could blown me over if it wasn't too busy passing right on through.

I spent my work day holed up in my office with the door closed, trying to write. Outside my windows, the day was damp and grey. I barely noticed. I thought perhaps I should retire to a mountain-top cave somewhere, with a welcome mat made of thumbtacks turned point-up. 5 o'clock couldn't come soon enough.

I stepped outside and blinked dumbly. The sun was well to the west, and the rays that slipped beneath the cloud cover had brightened things up a bit. But it wasn't the color that reached me yesterday. It was the odor.

The leaves that littered the cobblestones and pavers before the rains were now plastered flat; each footfall softened them further, and the air was ripe with tannins. You could smell the decay of wood, the earthy smell of rich river soil beneath the grass, the leavings of worms and the droppings of rabbits. You could smell the late-season mums now giving up the ghost of summer, and the tart remnants of a gray squirrel's nutty box-lunch. You could smell the green moss between the cobbles, the slick black feather in the storm drain, the passing of countless tiny lifelets to renew one strange and spinning orb.

The smell of dank decay at the end of seasons is not always pleasant. But yesterday, a whiff of ordered, peaceful passing offered perfect perspective. Bad days pass; what remains, we hope, is fertile ground for growing tomorrow.

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