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He Stoops to Sniff and Finds a Conundrum


It is the stuff of country-music lyrics, the stuff of sappy greeting cards. And I confess, I did it. The other day I stopped to smell a flower.

I was in a hurry, as usual, and there it was; a beauty with a long slender stem, perfect perpendicular petals, and a conical beige blossom. It virtually begged for attention. I bent and sniffed.

It is the content of popular legend: the busy bustling individual, too concerned with appointments, fat content and whether button-down collars have fallen from vogue to stop for a moment and stroke a child's hair, watch a sunset, enjoy a meal or smell the flowers.

Before I wax too romantic, I must tell you something. The flower had no aroma, no scent, no bouquet; it offered absolutely no stimulus to the olfactory lobes.

The discovery was met with marked consternation. It is spring, after all. Flowers should have an aroma. Something was amiss. I was suddenly struck with a thoroughly Eighties attitude. What's the point of taking time to smell the flowers? They don't smell. Why bother? It is an issue hinged on ROI, that is, return on investment.

Calming down, I attempted to rationalize my experience. I wished to approach it in a more contemporary fashion, in a manner more befitting the Nineties.

I philosophized that the very action of stopping to smell the flower was alone significant. I needed no return. Right?

It sounds good, but didn't I feel a little cheated? Hadn't I been tricked? I have no gripe with the flower. Some do not produce the scent normally needed to attract bees for cross pollination. Furthermore, it didn't ask to have its anthers ravished by my proboscis.

I suspect I am blowing the whole incident out of proportion. It was only a moment or two lost. But of course it was not lost. Nor was it wasted. A kinder, gentler person should take the time to smell the flowers regardless of the reward. That is the good thing about the Eighties being over. We don't necessarily require as many rewards. We've seen the trouble chasing them brings.

I did not need to smell the flower, really. I was just happy to notice it.

Douglas P. Bruns writes from Catonsville.

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