Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stopping to Breathe

Tonight I was inspired. No, the kids didn't achieve another milestone or say anything cute. I was inspired by the most simple of things. The smell of the evening air.

Tonight, was one of those nights for the senses. After work this evening I exited the building to find I had just stepped into an almost perfect night. It was just warm enough to know a jacket was unnecessary and just cool enough to avoid breaking a sweat. There was just a wisp of a cool breeze. Just enough to give the leaves on the trees something to do. The low temperature and dew point combined to give the air a freshly sliced watermelon smell. It was the kind of smell I would experience when, as a kid, I would peel a strip of bark from a live tree trunk, exposing the smooth, damp, virgin wood beneath.

The air was so sweet, I couldn't help myself but stand still and breathe in a long, deep sniff. This is an act that can only be attempted in Minnesota for about five months of the year. The other seven pages of the calendar picture air filled with nostril burning frost and brain freezing wind chills which would mean certain death if inhaled in such a reckless, indulgent fashion.

But since I was lucky enough to be in a more reasonable month, I took advantage of my rare opportunity. As the cool green smelling air filled my respiratory system, it felt like a tonic for my sore muscles. I could almost feel the cells of my body recharging and repairing as my health was being restored. My lungs held their gulp of air greedily, only exhaling for the promise of another draft.

As I walked through the parking lot to my pickup, my legs noticeably slowed their pace, almost as if my body was pleading, 'Just make it last a little longer.'

On the drive home, with the window down, the evening gave me no choice but to give it a few more minutes of attention by stopping at the river for another deep breath. This time, my sense of smell was accompanied by all my other senses in a stimulating concert of beauty. The inky blue evening sky provided the backdrop to contrast the velvety pitch of the dark treeline silhouette on the river's shore. The water's casual pace under the bridge created babbling white noise more soothing than any lullaby. The cottony light breeze would periodically rustle the tall reeds to add to the symphony. There was no moon out this night, so the dark, slippery water looked at smooth as a rippling parachute. Noticeably absent was the chirping of frogs, cicadas or any other creature. It was almost as if they too were appreciating the beauty of what nature had put on the canvas this night.

As the evening got deeper, I unfortunately had to leave. I solemnly thanked Mother Nature for providing such uplifting entertainment. The rest of the drive home was spent thinking about important things. Family, health, spirituality. I don't know why I was so moved by so common an occurrence. Perhaps, I just needed a reminder of the beauty of simple things to find perspective.

Once home, I immediately took a deep breath to try to recapture the mystical feeling of twenty minutes earlier. But the moment was gone like candle smoke in a gale. The air just smelled like air. I hope that someday I will be able to revisit such a time when nature conspires to excite all five senses in one glorious moment, causing a powerful peace to entirely fill the body.

Until then, I can only attempt to relate what I felt for those few minutes as best I can. And try to keep the memory as vivid as I can to hold onto it before it's magic fades.
And hopefully, I will be alert enough to recognize when the next inspiring moment will present itself, no matter how simple.


Casdok said...

Yes we do need to remember to stop and breathe sometimes. Sounds wonderful :)

James (SeattleDad) said...

Great post. Reminds me of my days on the farm, smelling the fresh cut fields of grass. Nothing quite like it.

The Dotterel said...

Poetic stuff!

SoCal_Suz said...

I need some of that! Our Cali fires are making the air here terrible!

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.