and possibly of the year, and maybe in the history of the world, and I am going for a walk with my friend Barbara, an author, the type of person who can use the word lyrical in a sentence and get away with it.
I always like the Lyndhurst estate, acres of lawn and statuesque trees surrounding a faux castle once belonging to robber baron Jay Gould.
The dogwoods dazzle. Some people find the pink ones too garish.
I would agree that the white blossoms appear more classic.
Note: dogwood flowers are really not flowers at all, but bracts, a kind of leaf. When the cherries and apples and redbuds have faded and the dogwoods step up, I am glad to have the last pink trees of the season.
The weeping copper beech has not yet leafed out. It shows its bones, a ruddy red.
In her intricate book about the beech, Casting Deep Shade, C.D. Wright tells us that the druids grew wise eating their nuts. And that in dreams, the tree signifies both wisdom and death.
I love the inscribed bark of the trunk, the place of bold identity statements and love proclamations.
Another senescent one on the estate had to go, and its fulsome branches lay tumbled in the sparkling sunlight.
Magnolia shows no sign of blossoms to come, now all waxy leaves.
We enter the private drawing room of a gargantuan old linden.
Its heart shaped leaves so delicate against the sturdy old branches.
Everything smells incredible. The lilacs. Lilac wafts on air beautifully, though its syrupy scent is somehow a bit chemical. I remember a bank of lilacs that towered over a lawn near a cabin we lived in when we first were married, taking it for granted, believing that around every corner would stand a bank of lilacs.
We inhale the fresh cut grass. That classic smell, which seems like simplicity itself, is actually an airborne mix of carbon-based compounds called green leaf volatiles, or GLVs. Plants often release these molecules when bruised by insects, infections or mechanical forces — like a lawn mower. GLVs are small enough to take to the air and float into our nostrils, and sometimes they can be detected more than a mile from the place where they originated.
I’m not big on lawns, but experts estimate that there are something like 40 million acres manicured grass across the United States, and mowing becomes our best chance to encounter that incredible smell. According to scientists, people who live near tea plantations in China might get the same feeling from the scent of the tea harvest.
The only aroma to rival that of cut grass is petrichor, the cool word for the way the earth smells after it rains.
The term was coined in 1964 by two Australian scientists studying the smells of wet weather, and it also has a scientific basis, derived as it is from when chemicals produced by soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes are released. These aromatic compounds combine to create the pleasant petrichor scent when rain hits the ground. Related, at least in terms of glossing some of the finer points of rain, the Japanese have a word, potsupotsu, that describes the sporadic raindrops that you see (or feel) when it is just about to start raining.
Now that’s lyrical.