Here in DC we seem to have just passed the peak of magnolia flower season, when all the big, shiny-leafed trees produce their gigantic snow-white flowers. Sometimes I walk on the sidewalks and the air is positively thick with the smell of magnolia. It’s like nothing else. Scent is a powerful trigger for memories, and the perfumed magnolia air brings me back to some of my gawky teenage summers in North Carolina. The big magnolias were perfect trees for climbing, since the branches are incredibly sturdy and typically spaced at convenient intervals. And somehow that scent just melds perfectly with humid summer air.
Magnolias technically can grow in many regions, of course. We had kind of a pathetic one back home in Olympia. But I think of them as culturally southern. DC, the so-called ‘city of northern charm and southern efficiency‘, is lucky that it falls within the bounds of the magnolia belt.