Linden Blossoms in Cambridge
Thinking of Tagore I want to say, "Linden, linden, linden!"; the past few days have been an olfactory feast for linden blossom lovers. First, branches that were usually high-up in the sky have descended towards the sidewalks, escaping the confines of terracotta-colored brick garden walls as if eager to share their bounty; now they have started to reach a person's height, then like an eccentric Alexander Mc Queen butterfly hat, but without any opening here to allow for normal vision, they also gradually descended upon my head, willing to coiffe me with their featheriness and ethereal pompoms and finally slapping me in the face as I walked, preferably, underneath them. At that point where the linden tree blossoms and leaves were hovering just above my hair, a cascade of pale green cotton mimicking heavy succulent grapes zeroing in on earth, and maybe before that getting off at a station before to tickle the noses of children, it made me stop dead in my tracks. I was suddenly surrounded in the heat by the isolating capsule of a cool sensation smelling of fresh green melon and immediately I recognized it "Un Jardin Après La Mousson!" Then I asked myself, puzzled "who might be wearing Un Jardin Après La Mousson with so much fervor?" Nobody but the linden tree apparently; the blossoms were just displaying a hitherto unnoticed facet: an aquatic green melon one, which together with the natural buttery nuance of the flowers made for a sketch of a moment in the development of UJALM. Then of course I asked myself, "Was there any linden in the perfume and did I mistake it for a green melon note?"...
Another day passes or perhaps two. Now I am waiting outside for my little one to come along and in that patient moment there is a wave of heat rolling down the street. I know where it is coming from because in it there is the scent of the linden tree exuding its charms at the corner standing between one calm and one noisy street two blocks away. It is like a gigantic breath taking possession of the neighborhood, a tsunami of linden aromas overheated by June bellowing forth thanks to a giant dutifully pumping his scented bellows to add sensual interest to the clean puritanical lines of New England. For a moment I feel I am in the middle of an olfactory drama as sonorous and incongruous as trumpets blowing on a quiet residential street. The linden tree's charisma is inescapable; its presence is signalled and communicated silently yet theatrically to all who can smell it. The wave recedes. I just witnessed, apparently, a linden tree eager to strut during an Easter parade in early summer.
On another perpendicular street nearby there is another old linden tree. A few more days in the week have gone by. The blossoms have started to look singed; they are russet-colored where once they were an aniseed green. A leisurely walking pace opens space for perceptual attention to my surroundings - proverbially inclined people do recommend to take the time to smell the roses. That other Linden tree thus also suddenly reveals a similar tremendous will to live and expand. I never looked at it really until I could smell it. It stands visibly a venerable landmark on the landscape but betrays a different nature, that of a vegetal wild animal waiting surreptitiously on yet another corner of another street for its prey to fall into the embrace of its charcoal and green bending branches; the heavy animalic indoles are dripping, vaporizing into the summer atmosphere. The hot humid air acts as a sensual pulsating skin carrying and emphasizing the scents coming from the branches. The dark leafy shade seems to be harboring a tribe of silently gesticulating monkeys, hooting at the passer-bys, in sum, ready to mate. At the same time in contrast to this primal brutality that is so apparent to the nose, the linden tree plays out exquisite nuances of one moment, tea, another moment, acacia honey, dewy melon, pollen, butter, hay, dry herbs, chamomile, woods, what not; it wants to enrapture you; it is intoxication multiplied.
The tree seems beastly, sanguine and alive but also sensitive, playing the violin, thrumming a harpsichord. All the stops have been removed, all the arsenal of evolutionary coquetry have been deployed and the linden tree is waiting immobile, wavering slightly in the breeze, seemingly endowed with movement and life and musicality, already anointed and ready for chance encounters.
Photos: ©The Scented Salamander