I live in a stinky suburb of a small city in upstate New York called Glens Falls. My suburb, South Glens Falls, is stinky because there are two papermills a few blocks from my place. Each night around 7pm they omit a sulfuric gas that slinks its way down the streets, over driveways and backyards, through the screens of my windows and into my nostrils. Sometimes I get angry about it. It would be nice to live in a town where the air smells like regular air ALL THE TIME. However, most of the time I succumb to the putrid odor and I’m defeated by it. I can’t fight the air.
It was about a year ago that I learned that the odor came from the papermills. Before that, I thought it was a low-tide type of smell eminating from the Hudson River, just a stone’s throw from my place…well, a LONG stone’s throw. I would walk along the river, sniffing. It was stronger over there…but also over there? I was a lousy bloodhound.
The most bewildering part was that I seemed to be the only person in South Glens Falls who noticed the smell. In the midst of the poisonous stench, others were going about their routines. Talking, laughing, yelling at dirty children, drinking beer, etc. Normal SGF stuff. How could I be the only one bothered? Maybe I had yet to develop the tumor, caused by the gas itself, that would keep it’s vicitms from detecting it’s very presence? Time was ticking and I was raging against the low-tide tumor.
So one day I asked someone who would know — my grandfather. He worked for one of the papermills for over 20 years back in the 70s and 80s. He told me that they’re cleaning out filters and we’re smelling the outcome. They’re supposed to do it overnight when residents would be oblivious and sleeping, but apparenlty 7pm qualifies for ‘overnight’ in Glens Falls. People do go to sleep early around here.
Most of the blog entries you read here will be composed while I’m marinating in the eggy stench. Unless, of course, there is a breeze blowing away from SGF and in that case this little suburb smells just like everyone else’s.