I walked through the farmers market in Union Square yesterday morning. I was on my way to work, and wanted an apple to eat on the way. I passed candles and yarn, fresh eggs and loaves of bread. I passed plastic-wrapped slices of banana bread and vacuum-packed cuts of lamb. I stopped at one of the many stalls selling apples. There were long tables covered in boxes of fruit: green, red, and yellow. The air smelled of hot cider and of smoke, wafting up from a nearby cigarette.
I took a bite of a Macintosh as I walked west towards the subway. It was tart and sweet and my fingers soon grew numb. As I walked, I realized that I could also smell something else. It was something familiar, yet unknown, something biting and faintly metallic. Perhaps it came from a trashcan, overflowing on the sidewalk. Perhaps it was the exhaust from a taxi driving by. Like many new smells for me these days—smells that are there but not, recognizable but unknown, and perpetually on the tip of my tongue—I just couldn’t figure it out. Perhaps, I thought, it is just the scent of cold.