The now familiar aroma of the air freshener in my friend’s car hits my nose at 5:40 am.
6 am in February is colder & darker by the day; it smells like… well like early morning. Seldom known but always loved, the mercies of the day so early & new appeal to each sense so personally.
Then the flavour of wet grass, and earth and sweat and trainers.
Fiddling with keys carrying a heavy metallic odour I push the door open to fresh coffee. Oh the sweet joy of that aroma, it’s promise and it’s associations.
The lotions and potions of the shower assault & I am finally awake. And eating and praying and packing. And rushing.
Stuck behind spluttering jalopies as the traffic slows; the burning rubber of Wynberg Hill. 3 Fender Benders. Artificial freshness blasting at me through the windows the snazzy car crawling next to me.
Spicy onions in Claremont & fresh bread baking in Rondebosch. Pungent cloying petrol fumes of construction vehicles on hospital bend.
Delicious salty mist of Nelson Mandela Drive & then down the hill to the pot smokers & chemical fluids washing Woodstock Main Road.
Rich pervading coffee on Loop Street; every time I drive that stretch between the back packers & the sixt car rental. I always say I’ll stop & follow my nose to the most delicious cup.
Cinnamon Donuts dragged me in to Food Lovers at Newspaper House & begged to come with me to the studio. Iron red dust of the road works under the bridge chokes me while I let the taxi’s fight their way to the red lights.
Sweet tangy tomato soup in the microwave at the studio. Oat & Peanut Butter cookies dipped in strong tea.
As the sun sets & the people settle the roads are quieter & free of fumes. Dusk smells gentle & confused as the breeze picks up & cleans out the smoggy City Bowl.
The freesia’s on the freeway are gone passed too quickly. They may not even be freesia’s at all but I like the word & think that’s how they should smell, so I refer to them as such regardless.
Meat is on the braai in the Deep South. As I wind towards home with the sea breeze to show the way, a stagnant swamp smell brushes past my nose.
Crisp Gin & Tonic, Ina Parmaan’s Olive & Rosemary. Melted butter & cheesey potato. The familiar presence of the one I love.
Clean sheets, deep breaths & the last perfume of a solitary surviving Valentine’s rose.