05/31/05 — Backroads blessing: The sweet scent of spring

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Backroads blessing: The sweet scent of spring

As you ride through the backroads of eastern North Carolina — and it is recommended that you do so during spring — slow down, turn off your air conditioning and roll your windows down.

You will be rewarded not just with better gas mileage, but with a spring aroma that is sweeter than in any other year in memory.

Something rare has happened to the foliage this year. The ubiquitous ligustrum, for example, has yielded more blooms than ever, or so it seems, not just a bunch here and there, but enough to give the woods and hedges a lacy white trim against their green.

They are augmented by a bumper crop of white and yellow honeysuckle blossoms with their familiar, intoxicating fragrance.

Smells do strange things to us. If we detect a scent that we smelled at a given time, during a given experience, the memory of that time and experience will be quick and vivid. Memories are being stirred this year.

Why this year? Perhaps the cool nights of early spring have something to do with the way the plants are blooming. Or maybe the rainfall was just right.

But the why is not the point. The point is that the spring has been particularly gracious to us this year. Those who appreciate the blessings of nature will go to a place where they can be enjoyed, if just for a little while.

You’ve heard the old admonition: Slow down and smell the ligustrum. Well, that isn’t exactly the way it’s usually quoted, but no matter. As Shakespeare wrote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Or was that a ligustrum?

Published in Editorials on May 31, 2005 9:41 AM