Whenever I encountered a passage in a book that spoke of air “sweet as wine”, I thought it was just hyperbole. Even on camping trips in upstate NY, the lack of the city’s hydrocarbon stench was as close as it came.
Here it’s different. I start most days with a trip to the garden to admire it and pick the sweet-tart cherry tomatoes that give meaning to the neologism “mouthgasm”, and today it was cold (though we’ll be sweating in the noontime sun in a few hours). My breath coalesced before me, I shivered, and merely sipped enough air to sustain metabolic processes. Then I noticed the smell; clear, filtered by millions of trees and plants, a hint of the musky duff that makes a thick carpet under the fir trees down by the river, a subtle tinge of ozone despite the cloudless sky, the distinctive smell of tomato plants on my fingers and the onmipresent aroma of the evergreens that tower all around us.
I breathed deeper; for a time, my hyperactive nature relented and pulling in huge lungfuls of this nectar was enough activity, and there was nothing else that seemed to need doing, no need to analyze or plan or give attention to anything but the air. Breathing became a meditation in a totally natural way – no need to chant in some arcane language, nor to push errant thoughts from my mind. Just pleasure in being alive.
What more could I ask for than to live in a place where life’s most basic, unavoidable necessities bring such pleasure?
Gods, what a crunchy granola boy I’ve become in my middle age! Even as part of me quietly mourns the closing of CBGBs and the recent passing of its owner Hilly Kristal.