Scent of Autumn Rain


After Rain, Autumn Mood (Sun-Down)

After the first autumn rains, how inimitable the beauty of days— the fall colors, not yet faded, washed out, in the winter deluge, but dripping, glistening, every crystal drop refracting the hue it trickles over. Running, draining color, brighter before the soil takes back again the positive red and yellow and blue to weave into the mistytextures of spring.
Yesterday the woodland spaces trembled with smouldering hazes, pulsing life. Saffron auras, amethyst shadows; filmy aerial dances over the water-ways; golden bees zigzagging into the sunlight; long floating gossamer strands, weighted and run with slipping iridescence —lost to leeward—invisible again. Today wholly pellucid the rainlaved air, clear green of washed trees. Only through oblique perspective is caught the transparent sparkle of pure atmosphere.
There are strange new odors abroad. The Yerba Buena, spicy in the heat, yields a different fragrance—steaming, heavy, balmy. The tannic rustle of autumn leaves lies hushed, damp, steeped in earthy redolence. Moist sprouting velvet upstarting—musky, mouldy scents drifting down the wet gusts. On all vital points along the hidden vines of mycelium the spore has quickened, swelling, lifting the soil. Now a fungus-garden, abeyant while the heat held sway, is heaving under the earth, absorbing the percolating color, lamellae and pileus pushing up in purple and crimson and orange. No need to wait the Spring to see a magic alchemy achieved. Into the drenched sunlight mushroom and toadstool come forth, fixed with the first fluid dyes of the rainy season.
It may be that the close walk with the Open leads to a trend of thought, not always scientific, but not so far from the true—for a mere fact is not all of truth, nor a beauty-stirred fancy ever quite lacking. Where has the madrono bark's soaked pliant copper gone but into these crowded Boleti, capped in bronzed and rusty red? And the scarlet Russulas are veneered with a thin washing, rainmelted from the trailing honeysuckle fruit. The limp wet yellow of maple leaves freshens again in the embedded Chanterelle's furled and fulvous fluting.
Exhalation of moss, mycelium, black mould; wafted savor of a thousand earthy growths, damp, clinging, redolent; aroma of mighty roots, of invisible spawn and seed—all the vast stirring of the earth's desire.
I suppose the pleasure in the effluvia from a swelling steaming earth must be hardily developed. Not fragrant is it as a flower is fragrant. Often bitter—tinged with the inevitable crumbling change —teaching the nostrils a deeper order of sense—stung with an acrid ferment—taking keen hold of the perceptions—laying bare, if one shall dare to face this, the crude, everlasting, indiscriminate fusion of the soil.
Carven and twisted Helvellas, old ivory, wrapped in layers of earth-eaten leaves; pink and violet Claverias—land-corals, scented with a salty tang; moist and quivering Tremellae, like to seaanemones trembling in the wave of the canon wind. Oh, this earth is as old as the sea, her forms and flowers as strangely beautiful and hidden fathoms deep in mystery. The smell of the sward holds the same immensity as the ocean's breath to one who ventures deep. The delicate perfume of a flower to those who trifle on the shore of this realm; but to the fearless voyager the reek, the strong essence, the touch, the smell, the grasp of the salt of the earth—the unconquerable joy in the baffling glorious struggle.
Earth and rain—dust and desire—what mingled odor of these is not sweet?
Out West Magazine, Volume 28