both pleasant and foul, follow me as I walk the avenue inspecting trees to make sure they’re not injured by the major construction project underway, alerting the contractor to tree pits that have had stuff dumped in them.
First is citrus heaven, as I go past the many small produce stands where the proprietor peels oranges on a spit, afterwards bagging them for the clientele. The aroma wafts out to the sidewalk, freshening the morning.
One not so lovely, the smell of the pet store. Canine poop and pee rise like a cloud in front of the shop.
Puppy mill puppies include that little Golden in the window, and can cost 2,800 dollars in the case of this English bulldog.
Which I would love to bring home, but can’t afford. Plus I prefer pit bulls.
Speaking of pets, the bodega I patronize just acquired a kitten named Winston, who is kept in the bathroom but has perfumed the whole store already.
Hard hats do not usually patronize shops here, but I go in if I’m interested.
I enter a nail salon to use the facilities – they really seem like every other store in the Bronx, alternating with hair braiding places – and I’m hit with dense, choking smoke from the acrylic shaping that goes on here. The bathroom is sparkling clean, as is the case in every establishment run by women here.
A relief to pass by the other big presence, the laundromat, with its sudsy air emanating from the open doors.
The trees themselves offer a green breeze, especially if you harvest a few to determine the species – some sort of elm, as yet to be determined, with a problem as evidenced by the pin pricks.
And at the fish store, where the fish seem to have just swam in from the sea, the tangy salt breeze begs me to take home a salmon, bluefish, anything but the shark, a species which is now being overfished. In the morning they take them out of boxes of ice and line them up in an orderly fashion for choosy shoppers.
Or you can go to the cuchifritos restaurant, a hole in the wall that doesn’t even have a name in the window. The smell of the best fried pork in the neighborhood draws long lines, and when I wait I have the most delicious pina colada I’ve ever drunk.
It’s the only eatery I’ve ever patronized with a Lotto booth. Well used, too.
And finally, the garlic that hits my nose when I rip open the tostones package, its contents rich with grease and salt. Every day I promise myself I won’t indulge, a promise inevitably broken.
It’s an aromatic distinction of the Grand Concourse, one of so many. I’m going to get a bag of Tostones right now.