October 9, 2004
When autumn comes to Skaneateles, there are magical days when the lake shore, the parks, the fine homes, the quaint shops and even the cheery passers-by all smell of manure. I’m not sure which way the wind has to be blowing or whose farm is setting the tone, but I have to say that whoever and wherever, they have a champ manure-spreader and are surely dressing the fields with only the richest, ripest fruit of the herd. It is a tangible tribute to their commitment to the recycling of nutrients.
Likewise, everyone in the Village deserves credit for pretending it’s not happening, for shouting out “Beautiful day!” instead of “Holy Cow!” But even in denial, we must be grateful for this tonic, this agrarian sachet, this farmyard nosegay, for leading us away from the temptation to think of ourselves as grander than we actually are. That just can’t happen when the day is being painted by John Deere raising a black rooster-tail of nitrogen, phosphates and potash, and everything smells like the bottom of an unlucky shoe.
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I was delighted with the responses to this piece.
“Quite! As we prepare to say a partial ‘farewell’ to Skaneateles, it is the unique balance this piece hints at that I will miss a LOT. Standing in line at the bakery in the AM is a wonderful example of this. The juxtaposition of footwear :: Cole Haan’s so clean you could eat off of them standing next to worn and battle tested Red Wing work boots festooned in shite :: is nothing short of delish!” — David J., Skaneateles & St. Louis
“Who needs Chanel No. 5 when you have cows? I love cows so I am a bit envious of your odoriferous situation. Take a good snort for me :-)” — Jeannie M., Bainbridge Island, Washington
“We just had a 40 foot blue whale, dead, wash up on Del Monte beach. Talk about stink!” — Gary A., Monterey, California
“Coupled with that fragrant memory are my own recollections of the upstate cabbage fields at the same time of year. Geneva was near Phelps, where the Silver Floss company reigned over the fields, and open trucks of cabbage heads regularly rumbled along those long straight roads between the Finger Lakes. And who could ever forget the crowning of the Sauerkraut Queen? Same problem you describe: a gown, a tiara, and a miserable stench.” — Susan L.Y., New Haven, Connecticut
“I think in reality it is pig – that is what makes it so bad.” — Ellen L., Skaneateles, New York