Monday, February 28, 2011

fleurs d'érable

Above, Acer platanoides blossoms are pictured in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow.
It is the season of maple sugaring, as my cousin reminded me the other day. She'd been assisting with sugaring operations over the weekend at Fairmount Park in the Wissahickon nature reserve of Philadelphia, and was describing the scent of fresh sap filling her apartment. I love how she relishes the turning of seasons, she always seems to be taking advantage of the most ripely seasonal food or activity (or both).

The sense of smell takes prominence in spring. As plants and earth wake from their winter slumbering, a musky scent of soil, with topnotes of chlorophyll, fills the air. Before even the smallest crocus unfurls to distract the senses (vision, that most easily seduced sense, overwhelms more subtle stimuli), the earth exhales, and we breathe it in.

The sense of color deprivation I feel at this time of year, when snow makes for a monochrome landscape, is really the biggest motivation for this series of flower posts, but I also feel scent-deprived, a deprivation not as easily mollified. Alas, scent is not transmittable by internet, so I will have to speak to memory and try to awaken yours. The scent of maple flowers is one of my favorite spring smells. Norway maple flowers have a sweet, fresh, warm scent I just love (one of the few redeeming characteristics, selon moi, of this invasive species). To me, the scent of maple flowers has always been the standout indicator of spring. The scent of green cut grass belongs to summer, and frequently has gasoline overtones. The heat of summer, at least in the city, blots out subtle scents with a miasma of smog. Delicacy of scent in nature belongs to dulcet, humid spring. So, enjoy the scents of spring! Breathe deep!

I intend to soothe my cabin fever next weekend at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Last year's show featured such marvels as an attractive luxury-resort style lounge with pillars and walls of plants (even a plant-covered bar, left), and a larger-than-life-size giraffe made out of orchids. This year's theme is "Springtime in Paris." I expect numerous floral interpretations of the Eiffel Tower, and a generous serving of kitsch. It will be difficult to resist adding another orchid to my collection, but I am trying to remind myself that moving domiciles with a large collection of plants will be tricky enough as it is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I can picture (sounds like the wrong word... hmm... what term for smell is that sense's visualize?) the smell of a maple flower. I guess I'll have to be alert for this in the coming weeks...