We have a jasmine plant that blooms periodically and profusely. It’s beginning to bloom again and the study smells like a Bangkok welcome wreath. Smelling jasmine always brings me back to the day we strung a lot of them for Songkran at Anglo-Singapore International School.
I was tired, just getting over a long bout with pneumonia that the pollution had made worse and all-night construction by our house had stretched out. I was trying to find a job in the States and beginning to say goodbye to people and places there.
Four of us teachers were scrunched up sitting at kid-sized chairs in the crowded music room, stringing flowers onto thread with varying levels of skill. The room was filled with the smell of jasmine. The tumble of flowers on the table in front of us was cool and damp, very welcome in the heat of April, the hottest, driest month of the year in Thailand. Songkran celebrates the Thai New Year and the (hopeful) start of the rainy season. In some areas, it is an excuse to throw water on everyone in sight for a week, in others just for a day. It’s time for hope that the heat will lessen soon and the rains start.
Now it’s April here in Minnesota. The leaves are beginning to uncurl and a few brave daffodils, crocuses, and tulips are basking in sunny patches of people’s yards. The birds are making up for lost winter songs every morning at the crack of dawn, and I keep going out without my coat, thinking it’s warmer than it is because of the sunshine. I love the spring and the promise of the earth, but I sometimes miss Bangkok, even with its heat, noise, and smells of a big city.
And then my jasmine blooms, and I smell a wisp of Thailand.