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Stop and Smell the Roses … at Your Own Risk

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Last weekend, I was helping my mother run some errands at one of those big sprawling outdoor shopping centers. As we emerged from the drugstore and got back into the car, I smelled something. Something bad. Something really bad. I turned to my mom. The look on her face told me that she smelled it, too. So I asked the question to which I frankly dreaded hearing the answer: “Did one of us step in something?”



Gingerly, we both checked the bottoms of our shoes. Nothing. And yet there it was: that unmistakable, foul stench. So, figuring that I must have unknowingly parked within “nose-shot” of where someone had neglected to clean up after a dog, I started up the car, intending to put some quick distance between us and the offending odor.



It was a beautiful spring day—one of the first of the season—so I was driving with the car windows rolled down to let the fresh air in. Only, as I headed toward the next stop on our errand list, the air that came wafting in was anything but fresh. In fact, the stench grew worse and worse. Truly, it became sickening. By the time I pulled into a space at our next destination—the supermarket—my mother and I were both nearly gagging.



Burying my nose in my T-shirt as I hurried through the lot into the Super Fresh—which I prayed would live up to its name—I finally discovered the source of the reek. You see, that parking lot—and, it suddenly dawned on me, all of the parking lots and road medians throughout the entire shopping area—were newly planted with lots and lots of spring flowers … in lots and lots of fertilizer.



Fertilizer. Okay, so that solved the mystery—but not the problem. I mean, I certainly appreciate that the management for this particular shopping center cared enough to do some seasonal landscaping and I realize that fertilizer helps plants grow, but come on! What exactly is the point of going to all the trouble of planting flowers if you can’t even enjoy the fragrance of those flowers? Why plant something beautiful outdoors if the stuff that you plant it with makes you want to run screaming indoors? Now, I’m no expert gardener. Actually, I’m not a gardener at all. But I have plenty of friends with incredible green thumbs, and they can all grow lovely, thriving flowers that smell like … well, flowers. Why couldn’t these professional landscape workers? Were they actually trying to drive customers away?



Well, whether they were trying to or not, they succeeded. I returned with my mother this weekend, but the stink still hadn’t dissipated. So we rolled up the car windows and rolled along to another shopping center where no seasonal gardening was being done—and no damage was being done to our nasal passages, either.



We won’t be returning to Super Fresh again until well after the first frost.

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