I bought the stones at the Farmer's Market.
Jase didn't ever see the booth, and he rolled his eyes at me as I tumbled the stones palmward, in the way that he does when I have indulged in something "too woo". But I found the booth, there just off to the side past the Raw Honey. It was butting against the wire fence and brambled trees, her glass jars tinkling as the wind lifted the table skirts. I spoke to the old woman, her voice almost blending in with the rustling of leaves down the path. Her sign said "Enlivening Elixirs".
It wasn't an elixir I came home with. The bag was natural muslin, soft to the touch. It had a red string tie laced through at the top, and in it were three cold and grey stones, about the size of a nickel, each. Nothing special to look at, but I held them in my hand within my pocket as we made our way home, reassured by their presence.
It was their smell that had so entranced me. As though once in the palm of my hand these three stones began emitting a scent: dense, rich, loamy even. How was this possible of rocks? I gawked into a middle distance for a time at the Enlivening Elixirs booth just as I stood, transfixed... inhaling deeply... in my kitchen. Unlike anything I have ever smelled, I return again and again to smell it. Is it? Is it...?
Vegetables to chop. Minestrone soup for dinner, fresh bread. Perfect for Autumn. The house is filled with warmth and such a lovely smell now that I shake my head and set our table, busy. Busy. The woman told me three stones in the bottom of my tea tonight. Release your wild nature. Try it with something sweet she says, and smiles then. Her lopsided fan of a mouth. I find myself smiling too, and holding onto the stones all throughout dinner, returning my fingers eagerly to my pocket.
Each time: exhale.
Television, my steeping tea. Since I like to mix my own it's a tasty infusion of licorice, mint, rose leaves and anise seed with chamomile flowers for calm. I am a bit restless by now. Stretching my legs about. I took one last inhale before pouring in the hot water: loam, moss, roots even. A dark smell. Mysterious but speaking. Speaking to me in a language unmistakably green, stinging of sap, lingering of fire.
But with the hot water: gone. I thirstily drink my tea, loud slurps and constant puffing just to get back to the bottom and those stones. But by then. Nothing. Done.
I rise my cup irritated, a sort of buzzing behind my ears. Fool. Tea bag, stones, tumble into the compost bin. Garbage smelling of garbage. Disappointment flares red in my cheeks.
Until I'm not asleep anymore but awake, quick, and now the smell is outside. I have just had a hint of it through the draft in the window. It beckons, and I dress. The clock says 2:35 AM in red devil eyes on the night stand as I pull my sweater over my nightgown. Boots. A hat. I retrieve these items because my teeth are chattering and I think: cold. But with every step I'm answered with: outside, now. It's not cold it's desire. There is a churning in my blood.
I pass through a series of doors I vaguely recognize: these are my doors, and then I am out. Staggering. Down the road, under moonlight. I pass by the empty lot of the Farmer's Market. Dust upon gravel. I pass by lights that spring on and homeless people asleep under makeshift shelters. I pass mothers up for morning feedings and barking dogs. Feverish, I stumble through the night. Running now, up, up the mountain, into the woods. I have kicked off my boots as I pass from concrete to soft ground at the park gate. The smell is everywhere, and I can smell the night too. Greedy, I inhale again and again.
I can smell the stars.
I can smell the animals. I know where they are.
I can smell history, I can even smell history, everything buried in the ground beneath me (tears streaming down my face) and who walked by this spot this day and how there is snow on the next mountain over. Panting, breathing, I stand under the moon where the ivy leaps the fence and tumbles unto the scratchy grass. The light filters down in patterns through endless branches. The wind moves and I move with it, just subtle now, growing, deepening, sussing out all the scents that ride on the breeze. Their stories and legends. How they came to this place. This spot. I have stopped. I have been stopped for quite some time, I think. Or, I wonder... I forget which.
Inhaling deeply, what a sensation of absolute bliss. Also my smell has become my hearing, and hearing is knowing and not responding with anything but my deep exhale. Breath in, and knowing, breath out, my presence. Glorious. I could almost be laughing. I haven't laughed in years. But the sun rises each morning, and the warm rush fills my veins, and I don't know if it's a laugh or a prayer or some glorious song as it dances on the unfolding of my leaves.