this morning, the smell of chrysanthymums

When they were still fresh, a month or two ago, my single pot of blooms took me directly to a wooden fence made by my dad from driftwood gathered at the beach. Planted alongside was a row of perennial chrysanths. Burgundy. Still the only shade I consider ‘real’ and their smell, decades later, is still about summer winding down, jackets, the grass feeling cooler, street lights coming on sooner.

This morning I notice how they’ve faded, they look more bronze than burgundy.

I lean down, inhale, expecting to be on that fence again but it’s a different smell, earthier, a pile of raked leaves from the pear tree (burgundy and bronze!) and some going brown. Leaves I’d raked myself, a few more every day, the pile growing until my dad said it was time to haul them away. (What did he do with them? Burn them? Bag them? Dig them into the garden?)

I only remember the raking and the leaping and the laying, starfish-like on top, staring up through a canopy of bare branches. I remember tossing handfuls in the air and the dewy wetness of the middle of the pile.

That’s the smell this morning. The middle of that sweet pile.