Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Autumn Reverie

I get nostalgic when I smell familiar scents from years gone by.
This time of year, one of life’s simplest pleasures for me is to put the top down on the car and drive through the neighborhood just as the sun is sinking beneath the horizon, red-rimming the sky, and turning the tree-line black. The aromas of supper frying behind an open kitchen window, or the pungent twang of yard clippings in a smoking heap in the corner of a lot are especially sweet.

My family lived in a fairly wooded neighborhood when I was in high school.
In the Fall, I would practice with the marching band until 5-ish, and then make my way home through the tree-lined streets. When the evening air was crisp, the different odors would shift as I walked block by block, past darkening yards and glowing porch lights.

Sometimes the smells from the past can be triggered by other senses…like a piece of music. I happened to pop a CD of The Moody Blues’Days of Future Passed” into the car …and I was instantly transported back to my Freshman year of high school.

My crowd hung out in The Band Hall. That was our social center. We weren’t necessarily nerdy—we just enjoyed being together and becoming really good on our instruments.
Band Halls have a unique smell…at least the one at Spring Woods High School did in the fall of 1970. Valve oil and cork grease were the predominant scents…and teenaged perfume. There was a bit of a dusty tinge, but things moved too fast for the dust to settle much. The flash of lacquered brass instruments, the gentle clicks of woodwind keys tapping in their pads, and the wooden ring of an errant drum stick spinning to the floor are part of a collage of memories.

You walk into any high school band room today, and you’ll pick up the same impressions…except maybe for the flash of a polished Sousaphone missing—they’re mostly white fiberglass these days. John Phillip would be spinning in his grave.

So I was tooling along in the car with the top down, playing The Moody Blues, and got a major rush of nostalgia from the music, and a strong whiff of someone cooking dinner on a grill in one block, and someone else burning leaves a quarter-mile down the road, and it was sensory nirvana.

That I was having this experience in a new Lexus SC 430 was perhaps incidental. Nothing like lowering the top at the push of a button. You can draw crowd putting the top up or down on the SC 430. Lexus really knows how to turn out a fine automobile, and this one is no exception with a 4.3-litre V-8 that will propel you to 60-mph in under 6-seconds.
Yes, I tested it.

I didn’t have access to a car like this when I was in High School. Probably just as well; I made enough of an impression on the local constabulary in my 4-speed manual ’69 Datsun pickup. Okay, so maybe I was a little nerdy.

But savoring the performance of the new SC 430 is a lot like those sights and smells that are rekindled as the days grow shorter and the evenings cooler.
They stay with you.

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