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I walked into one of my classrooms the other day after dodging puddles, mud and a bit of leftover snow in a small pile on campus. The weather was drippy and dreary and the sky looked more like the beginning of evening rather than the middle of the day.

“Wow, what a beautiful day outside!” said one of my students, a young man from Texas who is experiencing Iowa for the first time.

Michelle Sprout Murray

Michelle Sprout Murray

I looked at him, expecting to see a sarcastic grin on his face. It wasn’t there. I asked him if he was kidding, and he assured me that he loved this kind of weather. “I love the smell!” he explained, and several other students from other states agreed.

Another young man from California said that it “blows him away” when people from Iowa say they can smell rain coming a few hours before the first raindrop falls.

What a new perspective I gain each and every day with these students from across the country and around the world! A rainy and icky old day that makes me want to crawl back into bed is one that energizes one student and amazes another. I guess I need to start smiling at the rain a little more.

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There is so much that these “spring smells” can smell like, and no two days seem to smell the same. One day, it’s the ground waking up and the heavy smell of dirt permeates the air. Another day, it’s the smell of a fresh breeze blowing through the empty trees, coaxing the leaves to come out to play. Still another day, it’s the smell of too much “doggie duty” that needs to either be mixed into the ground as fertilizer or picked up … but that smell may be just at my house with our three dogs.

By this time, faithful readers probably are aware of my love of snow, and like Lorelei Gilmore on the old TV show, “The Gilmore Girls,” I, too, can “smell snow.” I’ve come to hate spring as it takes away my favorite season. Maybe “hate” is too strong of a word as I do appreciate green grass and flowers popping up magically after being buried underneath the snow for so long.

I’m starting to like the smells of each season, along with the changing sights and sounds accompanying them. My favorite sound is made by a cardinal that appears at just the right time when I’m feeling somber and missing my dad. I know many people who also are cheered up by the appearance of this bird, who is said to be a “messenger from Heaven.”

The sounds that I don’t like are the ones coming from my own house when I drive up to park in my driveway. My three dogs can sometimes sound like a chorus of 10 when they realize that someone is outside. It’s much louder in the spring and summer when our windows are open. Maybe this is yet another reason I love winter.

With my new perspective these days, I should just be thankful that no one can ever sneak up on us with our three guard dogs. Ah, the sweet sounds that a dog owner gets to hear. It’s not noise; it’s protection.

I was just thinking about how smells, sights and sounds can instantly take me back to different times of my life when I randomly fell upon a weird channel on TV that features old shows like “The Partridge Family,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” and “Bewitched.” Wow…just the first few notes of those theme songs played and I was a little girl again, ready to lose myself in one of my favorite shows. All of my stress slipped away for a few seconds, and I almost lost all sense of place and time.

Maybe that’s how I’ll feel the next time I smell rain…or hear a cardinal sing its song…or see glorious red poppies peeking out of the ground. It’s a beautiful day indeed.

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Michelle Sprout Murray is a freelance writer who lives in Mason City with her family. She may be reached at sproutmurray@gmail.com

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