Tag Archives: Germany

The green, green grass of home

Bloganuary: Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

After the war, after we left Kuwait for Saudi Arabia, after everyone started calling it Operation Desert Sit, I had the chance to drive into King Khalid Military City.

At the entrance sat a patch of lawn that was so green, so lush, so potent that its scent sliced through the desert air. It struck us—physically. All of us craned our necks, exclaimed, and inhaled deeply. Whoever was driving the Humvee nearly veered off the road.

This perfect bit of golf-course grass was so opulent that it was practically obscene.

And after all the waiting, first in the desert and then in King Khalid Military City, I remember stepping off the plane and being hit with that same sort of extravagance of a German spring. Never mind that we landed at Rhein-Main Air Force Base, in the heart of industrial Germany. Never mind the jet fuel in the air or the exhaust from the buses waiting for us.

It was like walking into a wall. The scent of vegetation was so thick you could touch it, taste it. When I finally returned to my BOQ, I wanted to leave the windows open. My rooms faced a small preserve within the city of Darmstadt. It was so calm, and peaceful, and green. But, compared to Saudi Arabia, the air felt so cold, so damp, so heavy.

I had to content myself with staring at the greenery through the glass. And I did so, for hours.

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