It happened again the other day. You know the scene in “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?” where Pete suddenly stops the car gets out and starts running and screaming through the woods?
Well, that didn’t exactly happen to me. Pete wound up with some sirens down by the creek bank, got loved up and turned into a toad. I don’t have to or need to go on the road to start running and screaming.
But when I do go on the road around this time of year, the call is irresistible.
Driving down back roads around this time of the year, it’ll hit you just as sure as there’s a cheeseburger waiting at the local greasy spoon.
It’s the hint of perfume waltzing by you in a room. When I’m traveling in the spring of the year, the rolled-down windows on my truck are a direct invitation to this kind of scent.
Windows have two purposes: To look out of and be opened for ventilation. Before we got air conditioning, I remember all the windows in the house being open, a big ole fan pointed toward the outside, drawing fresh air into the and taking the stale air out.
With the wind blowing through my truck
Air conditioning certainly cools you down, but it doesn’t have the properties to stir your mind.
It brings back days long ago with the sting of summer on your neck and sweat dripping down your brow. It’s homemade ice cream. A first kiss. A first date. A winning season. A good crop. It’s daydreams and reality.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Driving down a back road.
It comes through the truck like puberty through the veins of the young.
It’s out there somewhere, I can smell it. It’s better felt than seen. It’s better smelled fresh than taken in secondhand.
While I’ve seen few dirt roads in roads North Carolina, the spirit of a dirt road is still there off the main road. I miss dirt roads, but even the back roads still have the feel of dirt on a spring day.
Through a patch of woods over the flat land emerges what we’re all about when it comes to it. Dirt.
Pure and simple dirt. That’s why I’m on the back roads.
I can smell it. You probably know the smell. It’s new every year.
In the middle of a back road, I hit the brakes as quickly as possible. I’m out of the truck in a flash. I may or may not have my camera.
I’m trucking across the field, having spotted the telltale signs of the deed.
They tell me when she’s stirred just right, she releases perfume. They’ve got a scientific name for it.
I prefer to call it intoxicating. Excuse me while I take my shoes off.
Breathe deeply, this is the smell of the soil. Ahhh, Springtime.