this morning was overcast and gray. the breeze bordered on wind and i threw an extra layer on as i headed out the door. it is almost june and so the gloom struck me as odd. but even odder than the atypical chill was the scent of magnolias that greeted me as i strolled to my car.

i’m a southern girl and i’m accostmed to the tall dark green spleandor of magnolia trees. i’m used to watching their giant flowers gracefully unfurl themselves as summer progresses. their scent rising in the heat and humidty of a south carolina evening or a lousiana night. the sweetness saturating the air and urging me to close my eyes – if only for a moment – and bask in one of the gifts of a steaming summer.

so it struck me as strange…strange enough to stick in my brain…that the scent i associate with sweaty afternoons on canopied streets instead greeted me while i bundled against the chill in the air. how bizarre to have something so familiar feel so foreign.

i remember last year – when the east bay warmth kicked in, no match to the south’s sultry summer months but warmer than today – noticing how white the flowers stayed. the sun wasn’t hot enought to bake the flowers brown and dry them into petrified versions of themselves. i appreciated their longevity here – where i could stare at them out of my second story window and catch a wiff of them as breezes blew to cool my apartment.

but the cold contradicts my notion of magnolias. it extracts their southern roots and confuses my senses. i wonder how long it will take for the scent of the almost oppulent white flower to mark itself in my memory on a chill wind. how long before i find the sweet musk hanging on humid breeze foreign instead.

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