“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
In the spring, at the end of the day, here in Vancouver, I smell like a lot of things: sweat, my perfume, the perfume from the girl next to me on the bus, teriyaki chicken, wet cement, soft water, coffee with milk, chlorine from the pool, car exhaust, pillow drool and fabric softener. The smell of dirt is noticeably absent from my “bouquet.” I think I’ve been getting little cues from the universe telling me this has to change; that I need to get a little more intimate with the dirt in this city.
This year, I was introduced to the Hindu Spring Festival of Holi – it’s the festival of colours. Holi fell on the full moon in February, before the vernal equinox this year. On that day, I was smeared in red; coloured powder wiped right across my face. Fires are lit during Holi, just as they are during Nowruz, the Iranian New Year celebrated on the first day of spring. The tinge of fire, black ashes left over, back into the dirt, back into the earth: these are the images and experiences that have welcomed me into spring this year.
I think it’s a good start to the season even if it’s not a clean one. It’s encouraging and it makes me want to add a little more soil to my smell. Getting in a little face time with dirt can be a tough thing when you live in a city. I’ve got access to a gymnasium floor, tiled pool and imported sand that lies next to the water along English Bay – but not vast amounts of good, clean dirt.
So, as my ode/resolution/promise to the spring of 2009, I’m going to try and pay a little more attention to dirt; where and how it competes with the city and whether the two can share a peaceful co-existence. I think I’ll start with the little bit of dirt that’s buried below the tree potted in the cement outside my apartment. Time to get down and dirty.