Has it always been like this?

Courtesy of Frankie Knuckles '21.

Le printemps vera, we said, and it did. Creeped up on us in greens and pinks and purples and buttercup yellow. 

Around December, I start to really miss the smell of Rocky—of paint that was once fresh, wood floor, coffee behind every office door. One time sophomore year I woke up at five a.m. and sat on the floor in the front hallway and wrote eight pages of a philosophy paper, and the building smells like that. 

I don’t know if it still even smells the same. I haven’t been in there since my junior year. Sitting in the philosophy lounge, connecting remotely to the Misc’s design server to do file maintenance, to tweak the layout, to send it off to print. I’m guessing it smells cleaner now. Less like the slow decay of so many sheets of paper and more like Clorox.

In the ravine outside, black shapes gather on trees that would be bare if not for the piles of snow they hold. The crows come almost every day, right around 10 o’clock, and I sit at the table with my third coffee and watch them coalesce into a murder. They call back and forth, swooping from branch to branch. Landing in the little creek and dipping their beaks in. Consistent company.

In a nor’easter, the geese lay down on the frozen lake, necks bent at a strange angle to tuck heads into down. I worry about them, out there in the cold wind that’s howling through my poorly insulated windows. I’ve got vegetables roasting and a dutch oven full of gluten free macaroni and cheese, which they wouldn’t like anyway. But I worry. 

One day in March we cross the bridge and look down at a log to see five painted turtles. The air remains crisp, but they’ve found their own patch of sunshine. I’m upset the day in May I look down and there are no turtles on the log, until I realize that means they’ve got all the sun they need wherever they are now—they don’t need to strategize. 

“There’ll be studies on this, I bet,” my housemate says as we all walk under crab apple trees and magnolias. Of the sudden disappearance of our olfactory senses, and then the oversaturation effect afterwards. I swear, stepping outside these days is like walking into a Yankee Candle. The plants are so vibrantly scented that it gives me a headache.

Pollen swirls through the air outside our big windows, collecting in cotton-y heaps on the edge of the pavement. “Has it always been like this?” I ask, sniffling through my seasonal allergies. We don’t remember this much pollen before, but then, maybe I just wasn’t looking for it.


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