The morning before Earth Day, Nancy and I lay in bed under our mound of comforters, slowly letting our circadian rhythm kick into gear. Those first mumbles of the day tend to be a series of yawns, grunts and moans. Suddenly our eyes became more than awakening slits and we scowled at each in a most accusing manner. “Eeewwww, did you fart?!” we queried in unison.

After sputtering denials from both parties, and retreating beneath the filter of covers, we realized that the smell was from coming from outside. Actually we had detected the smell outdoors the day before but now a trace of the insipid aroma had seeped through the thick log walls of the Outpost.

After getting dressed and stepping outside to check things out, it didn’t take much sleuth work to locate the mystery orifice of winter’s release. Behind the Outpost, over the top of Pulpit Hill is a relic of a former river path. It is a curving oxbow pond now and it is the smelly grail of this seasonal miasmic release.

In the past few days as we have got in some wonderful early spring ski outings in the area, we have detected the smell of sulfur every time we are near a lake or wetland’s edge. The breezes this morning carried the wake up call directly towards the Outpost.

Just as our bodies cannot process our food without creating noxious gas fumes, the waterlogged soils around wetlands become gas-producing environments. Over the course of a long winter, any oxygen that had been in the muck has been long consumed. All aerobic (oxygen loving) microorganisms have died off leaving only those anaerobic wee organisms in good shape. The metabolisms of these microorganisms that don’t require oxygen are the reason for the increase of compounds such as the odorless gas methane and the highly odoriferous gas, hydrogen sulfide. The hydrogen sulfide is the nose-wrinkling, rotten egg smell that nearly caused a rift in our morning bed.

As this is our first experience with the demise of a northern winter and the advent of a Yukon spring, we have been curious as to how spring would announce itself. I have to smile knowing now that the fair maiden called ‘Spring’ is called forth by a stale, sulfurous and bad tempered fart of Old Man Winter.

Clearly a lesson was learned here. This was simply another case of where we can find beauty, a sign of spring, in something that is typically a bit revolting. I have always found a certain joy in smelling the first skunk of March or April, but since they are not found in the Yukon, I must be rejoice in spring’s appearance as declared in a similar discharge.

And once again I have been battered with the adage that there is always something good in the bad.

Ahhhh, smell that wonderful winter fart!! How lovely.

Filed under: Uncategorized