In winter. Peppermint, balsam and pine, cypress, smoke, soot, dust, litter. Coffee, cocoa, beef stew, burgundy, anisette. Citrus – bitter like grapefruit, sweet and rich like blood oranges, green and trimmed with tang like limes.
Once a boy kept whispering to me in a college class on southern literature. No matter how I ignored him, he kept on. In the ground floor classroom, where mildew swelled in the folds of linoleum, I glared, and still, he kept on. Finally, the class ended and he followed me, walking backwards before me, bowing and eventually saying that I smelled of snow. Even in a city below sea level where snow rarely flew, I couldn’t shake him off.
When he took me dancing, the bar smelled of hot bodies, rum, tobacco, and the sulfured remains of poppers. Midnight meals of buttery omelettes, thick-cut fries, and creamy orange freezes. In the morning the thin papery odor of exhaustion.
In spring. Wet grass, sage leaves, mint in time for juleps in early May. Double-barreled bourbon, wood smoke, charcoal and steaks on the grill. Wet dog, morning breath, cloves, patchouli, and ashes. Pears poached in pale wine and sugar and vanilla, star anise and cinnamon sticks floating atop the syrup as it turns darker and thicker. There was a chicken in the oven, doused in sherry. There were potatoes au gratin, turning velvety and coppery, begging forgiveness. There was a salad of endive with a lemon vinaigrette, croutons, anchovy dares and salted secrets.
On the last morning of the year, we crush mint into the fresh tangerine juice, and we don’t even bother to add the dry and silky Prosecco bought especially, especially, especially to accompany the Benedict, Hussarde, Sardou.