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COLUMN: There's nothing like the smell of dead leaves

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By Shannon Brock

I just love the smell of dead leaves.

It sounds a little creepy, but it's true. And up until a couple weeks ago, I hadn't really realized what I was smelling.

My husband and I were at Veteran's Park in Lexington enjoying a lovely evening and sauntering along the walking path.

I took a deep breath and made a comment something like, "I just love the smell of fall. I can't really describe it, but there's just a smell, and when you smell it, you know it's fall."

Being the biologist that he is, he snickered and retorted, "Yes, you can describe it. It's the smell of dead leaves."

I tried to counter with a "no, it's not, it's ..." but I couldn't come up with anything to fill in the blanks. I never really thought it possible to enjoy the smell of something dying, but I resigned myself to the fact that he was right, and we kept walking and talking.

He made me feel a little better about enjoying the aroma of defunct leaves by connecting a pleasant childhood memory to the smell.

"It's like when you were little and you'd rake up a big pile of leaves and jump in it," he said. "It's that smell."

I nodded along with a smile, but I what I didn't tell him was that yes, I raked up many a pile of leaves in my day, so I was familiar with the fragrance. However, I rarely jumped back in those piles because there just had to be bugs in there and I didn't want to make a mess after just cleaning up or get the leaves all over me.

I guess I just didn't want to ruin the pleasant nature of our conversation.

Fall back home in Pineville is different than fall in Lexington or Lawrenceburg, though Lawrenceburg comes closer.

In Pineville, we have the always beautiful Appalachian Mountains. A couple years ago, I think I wrote about missing fall in the mountains. Not like missing as in yearning for, but missing as in by the time I went home, it was gone.

I hope that's not the case this year. I hope when I go home this weekend the red, yellow and orange leaves are still clinging to the trees. Maybe they'll hold on just for me.

It's just too beautiful a sight to miss. It's really too beautiful a sight to see only for a day or two each year. Two days isn't enough time to just revel in it.

However, all is not lost. I mentioned that fall in Lawrenceburg seems closer to fall at home. Of course there aren't any mountains, but there are farms and fabulous foliage. And, there are enough trees to enjoy the fact that that their leaves are changing. So, I feel blessed to be somewhere where fall means more than decreasing temperatures.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, with spring being the other. The temperatures are bearable and they come with a lot of symbolism. Something dying, something being born.

Come to think of it, spring has a certain smell, too. It must be the smell of baby leaves.