Fallen leaves

I was walking along a sidewalk when I came across a deep pile of fallen leaves. It was deep enough that my shoes were swallowed completely. I bent down and scooped up a handful of earth-toned leaves. Maple or Oak, I’m not sure which, or maybe both. I breathed in deep. This scene burst to mind: hay being thrown off an old pick up into a cow field.

Roses slip past their prime releasing a softer, fuller fragrance like fallen leaves

I breathed a little deeper, and the cow field came into clearer focus. It was Howard’s pasture, my former neighbor in Maui who fed day-old bread, along with hay, to his cows. He was such a thoughtful, older man. He and his sons would bale hay and  bread for the cows, and then he would shuffle over to my house with bags of bananas, mangos and vegetables from his yard. Then we’d sit on my front porch and talk story until he had to get back to the cows, or until I had to get back to work.

After a few more breaths, my nose burrowing deeper into the leaves each time, the field disappears. The image that emerges is a surprise: a funeral home, where wreaths and vases of roses slip unnoticed past their prime and the petals begin to curl around the edges.

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  1. Old leaves often smell like roses to me, past their prime, as you describe, as does purple kale.

  2. I grew up around the funeral business and for me it’s the smell of chrysanthemums. Here in Italy, mums are a popular funereal flower. Flower shops put baskets of them outside right before Nov. 2, their Day of the Dead. Walking past a shop the other day, I was overwhelmed by the scent and transported back to the funeral home where I grew up.