The Wormhole in the Lindens

Since I’ve been too preoccupied with life lately to spend time here on WordPress (how busy and creative y’all have been!) and have continued to struggle with content that’s up to my all-but-unattainable standards, here is a post from my erstwhile blog, Fairy of Disenchantment, which I have been missing a lot lately. It does still exist, hidden away, though the export broke all the associated image files. It would be work to revive it, but sometimes I think I’d enjoy hanging out there instead of this new space. It was a good blog… And the Fairy was a good friend…

Anyway, the post was written around my birthday five years ago and still feels relevant except that the lindens this year don’t seem to be flowering at the same time and currently the scent is quite subtle. Hopefully in another week I will be gloriously overwhelmed.

Many scents are portals, but in summer, the heat sketches so many of them into the air that I’m damned if I don’t pass through a hundred places just traversing seven city blocks.  Crossing a steaming parking lot, the tarmac almost fluid under my feet, I pass through cities from Athens to Phoenix, with a short stop at the Dane County Fair.  Before heat became my mortal enemy, I loved it unconditionally, as one might expect of anyone who was born on the summer solstice.  I imagine that even in that first season, while my ears were full of the music and laughter and chatter of birds, insects, and my family, the chemical language of all living things that thrive at high temperatures was penetrating my senses.  And the aroma that’s worked its way deepest into my into psyche — that says, irrefutably, this is the start of your season — belongs to the linden tree.

I’m a little surprised that it took me 43 years to realize that linden blossoms are olfactory wormholes in space/time.  I know I’ve always loved these trees, though I didn’t always live right next to one.  It was certainly the only saving grace of the house we last lived in (though we cursed the sap and feathery seedpods it dropped on our car).  Now, I have to walk a few blocks, but at the bottom of our street, there is a convocation of about ten of them, and when I turned the corner the other day, their scent in the air hit me like a Mahler symphony — specifically, the Third, which belongs to summer.  That was my first stop.  My second was Mahler’s city, Vienna — where I have persisted in believing that the hotel my parents and I stayed in when I was a teenager — and where I tasted my first Pilsner Urquell and my first Hasenrücken and Spätzle — was called “Die Drei Linden”.  In fact, this hotel was in Nürnberg, Germany (West Germany, then), where I discovered I was madly in love with a centuries-dead artist named Albrecht Dürer, who inspired a sculpture by Jürgen Görtz that I found delightfully horrible.  Ten years later, when I was studying for a month at the Goethe-Institut in München, I’d jump a train and go back to that spot, fleeing from a crazy landlady with electric blue eyeliner — only to find that in the summer (it’d been spring the first time I went) the city arguably resembles that statue of Der Hase with tourists pushing like little rabbits out of their overgrown hutch…  I ended up retreating to the peace of München’s many pleasant parks and ended the day, somehow, with an Afghanistani boyfriend — so it was one of those days.

You might think that was the last of my destinations but oh no, because thinking about any of that time — when my father worked a customer service job for United Airlines that no sane person would perform without substantial travel benefits — takes me a hundred places, on three continents and several islands.  Only this time, I didn’t have to fly stand-by or sleep in any airports, though truthfully, I never minded that part; I’m German and it just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t suffer, especially for a privilege I didn’t earn.  (Incidentally, Father’s Day and my birthday coincide every 7 years; there’s no card or t-shirt or CD that could repay him for even one of those trips.)  In the end, and inevitably, my whirlwind tour left me with a crushing nostalgia.  Many people think that the origin of the word nostalgia is Russian; it’s actually a compound of Greek words, but that didn’t stop me from thinking of Russia as I passed under the lindens.

I’ve never been there, except through music. But there’s a tune I first heard when I was 20, on a great album of Russian folk songs sung by Dmitiri Hvorostovsky, called “The Lime Tree.”  Something about the play of light in the leaves and the scent and the sound evoked that recording, and of course I went home and listened to it instantly, and was satisfied.  I had no notion, though, until I started looking up other versions of the song, that ‘lime’ is just another name for ‘linden’.

But either all this virtual travel has tired me out a little, or I’m still a bit hungover from the longest day of the year.  So I think I’ll close now with a nice video of the song, performed by a classic Russian folk orchestra.  If you haven’t yet passed through your own summer portal, linden or otherwise, bon voyage!  Send me a postcard.

13 thoughts on “The Wormhole in the Lindens

  1. The Fairy of Disenchantment is always welcome for a triumphant return if she (and you) so desires! ;c)

    … and I’m understand about not being inspired lately- I’m baffled by these individuals who can sweep the floor once and make 5 amazing blogs about it. I want what they have! Le sigh…

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I love that they are in costume…and it does sound like fairy music.
    We lost all our elms here to Dutch Elm disease, but the lindens always seemed like close cousins. Trees are so evocative in every way. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t that great? A music that moves like the trees…
      So sorry to hear about the elms; same with our neighborhood. Yet the lindens (so far) remain. Hoping they are the stronger cousins!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Albrecht Dürer is truly swoon worthy. If you are going to fall in love with a centuries-dead artist, it doesn’t hurt to fall in love with one of the best…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Never knew the Fairy blog but I can sympathise with missing an old blog as I’ve recently terminated a character and blog myself!
    Amazing how these memory triggers from the senses work, especially when the one that’s meant to keep it all firmly enclosed doesn’t seem to work that well by itself. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ha, that was well put! It’s quite mysterious how that happens, but I’m glad something works reliably up there. ^_^

      Alas, poor Bryntin… These things feel quite necessary, and not immediately regrettable. In my case, it took years! I’m not entirely sure that I needed to remove an entire blog to disassociate myself from one particular element, but that’s my fraught relationship with social media in general. I’m very flighty. The Fairy, ironically, was quite the opposite; she was of the Taoist variety, and occasionally just a little too perfect in her composure… But I could do with a bit of her mix of fancy and discipline, so we’ll see!


      • I seem to have difficulty maintaining an even keel. Bryntin got quite mad at stages but his death was quick and impetuous, possibly fuelled by MS attack depression and me sleeping exhausted for two weeks afterwards.
        I expect another version of him will appear soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Ignus Fatuus | Away from the Machine

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