The highway is quiet, and small sounds seem loud. The traffic on National Route 298, elevated over my right shoulder, is only faintly audible, reduced to a relative whisper by its height and enclosing barriers.
Louder than the highway are my narrow bicycle tires rolling on the wet asphalt, the road turned jet black and sparkling by the rain. Vibrations reverberate and sing through the wheels as the rubber leaves fleeting tracks on the vitreous pavement.
Louder are the sounds from the long string of parks under the highway. The footfalls of a jogger, cinders crunching rhythmically underfoot. Someone clattering a chain-link fence with a soccer ball. Two friends talking and laughing, happy and tired, sitting at the edge of a poorly lit basketball court.
Louder are the commuter trains passing at a distance and the door chime of a nearby convenience store. Louder is the tomcat in the auto shop’s parking lot.
Loudest of all, though, are the osmanthus blossoms, projecting their redolence into the night with such thunderous aromatic intensity as to overwhelm the conventional sensory borders and flood territories inaccessible to lesser scents.
Their heady aroma gives the moist air a palpable thickness and heft, such that you feel you are swimming in a saturated, soporific concoction of apricot, honey, and hypnagogia, with undercurrents of the autumn sun’s penetrating warmth.
Deep lungfuls bring it through your nose and mouth simultaneously, forming flavors that recall adolescent arousal and the heart-pounding memory of holding someone close for the very first time, the residual tatters of lust and limerence from an earlier life mostly forgotten.
It invades and invigorates every sense. It textures the world and tingles the skin. It sparkles the vision, echoes the soundscape, and floods the mouth with nectar.
The mind licks its teeth and thirsts to drink this overwhelming atmosphere of tiny golden flowers wafting their siren song on the breeze. And on nights like this, with a light rain amplifying every olfactory perception, you can easily lose yourself in it for prolonged moments.
But the moments, however long they feel, remain just moments all the same, no matter how much all of our senses conspire, straining and writhing in unison to prolong the sweet intoxication. And eventually, inevitably, the wind shifts, the blossoms fall, and their brief season of salacious jubilance concludes.
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