After my trip to the cemetery and working with the Techeland Arts Council, I headed back to Lafayette, driving along Highway 182 to enjoy the smell of sugar country during harvest. Having spent my childhood in the fields, all the smells resonate pleasantly. There is the smell of the ripe cane itself, like dry leaves mixed with a hint of sugar and just a little bit of fermentation. There is the smell of the rich black earth, broken loose by the churning of tractor and harvester tires. There is the smell of cane being ground up and boiled down to sugar. There is, too, the odor that gags some: the smell of the bagasse, the leftover fiber of the cane, as it is either burned for fuel or churned out into great heaps to dry.
The smell I like best is the smell that causes so many people to suffer this time of year with allergies and which sometimes leave a light coating of ash throughout the region, the smell of cane fields burning.