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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Fragrance After the Rain

wild grape vines in blossom

Today I will tell you a story that began in 1993, but I am reminded of it every year on warm, humid days when the grapes are in bloom.

I was working for the summer on the DesPlains River in Illinois, doing testing on a series of constructed wetlands. Chips was a puppy, full of energy and curiosity. We were living on site, and after the gates closed at 6pm every day we had 300 acres all to ourselves. There was a trail through the project which we often walked in the evening.

One day was gray and rainy, but after the storm was over the air began to warm and as we took our evening walk I was surprised by a sharp, yet sweet odor that hung in the air. I hadn't ever smelled it before, and I began exploring to discover where the scent came from. Imagine my surprise when I found it to be the blooming wild grape vines!

wild grape vines in blossom

I had considered myself a decent amateur botanist, yet I had never noticed the blooms of the grapes before! At once the words of a popular Christian song popped into my head:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
There's just something about that name.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Like the fragrance after the rain...

And so, that wonderful, sweet but wild, spicy and unique scent of the grapes will forever remind me of the summer of 1993, and adds a poignant note of wonder to make that song more real.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Let all heaven and earth proclaim:
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there's something about that name.

Now I watch for the blossoms each year and purposefully sniff for an early summer "high." Oh, and in the fall I've taken to making wild grape juice and canning it for bursts of breakfast wild-ness throughout the winter.

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Rick (Ratty) said...

I remember when I was a kid I there were a few years when I used to see grapevines everywhere. I liked them and I thought I would always see them after that. Just a few short years later and I never saw any again.

Julia said...

There are so many memories associated with scents for me too. I love the tarweed smell in late summer as it hangs near the ground in the early morning or late evening time. Those memories are wonderful to have. I have not noticed the grape scent and will have to try and find some to sniff!

Sharkbytes said...

OK, Ratty... you need to go on a scavenger hunt. I know there are common wild grapes and also fox grapes where you live. And another vine, Moonseed, which isn't a grape, but looks grape-ish.

Julia- I don't know tarweed! Western plants are SO different. I know you'll like the grape scent.

Glynis Peters said...

I live in the middle of the Cypriot vineyards :) The jasmine overpowers the grape at the moment, but it is something I had never smelled before I lived here.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Glynis- I have smelled jasmine at a botanical garden. I think I would find it overpowering of everything!

Filipino Food Guide said...

Nice post, The smell after the rain especially if you're in the country brings an uplifting mode in oneself.

For me a rain is all about cleansing. Nature smells good and looks good after the rain.

Nice post, God bless.