The Sweet Smell of Death
In the suburbs’ garden of green squares and palace’s neatly controlled riots of sprawling verdant seas, beginning at one shore the wave of whirling blades and noise moves from border back and forth or round and round until the brightly lit tomb of silence is filled with the smell of cut lawn.
That is the smell of plant pain, danger, trauma: a scream that other plants hear. Kids from the suburbs learn to love it. Perhaps golfers love it also as they chase their dimpled balls across the green.
When they cut the winter wheat it is dry as dust. They just want the kernels, the grain. They have learned that the stalks have use to someone as well. Harvest of peas, lentils, and wheat smells of dirt, dry dirt. But the alfalfa baled on the tractor trailers heading out Highway 8 to the Columbia Basin to feed the livestock through the winter fills the cab with sweet pain and agony as I drive the garbage off campus. Truck after truck, sometimes as many as five loads in the space of five miles.
Mr. Spock once pointed out that we all feed on death, even vegetarians. As a body grows older, has more experience and awareness, tastes change and in some they grow stranger, mere habits, addictions. I have met some who have grown used to the scream of children as well as some who no longer have their stomachs turned at the smell of death: doctors, soldiers, morticians, people from abattoirs.
As a child from the suburbs, the smell of fresh cut grass no longer pleases me, but the addiction of cut alfalfa still is ripe, but I have grown used to the rot of garbage after twenty years of hauling.