Breaking out my white pants over Memorial Day weekend has launched me into summer mode. With the warming weather trend (finally), the longer days, and the explosion of bright green everywhere, I have started to feel that the lazy, hazy days of summer are at last on their way. But the smells are what really evoke summer for me.
Fresh mown grass, sunscreen, the chlorine in the pool, sweet melons, night-blooming jasmine, a juicy steak on the grill – all signify that time of year when we slow down, go on vacation, and read fat, escapist books at the beach.
When I was a child, the smells of summer consisted of Sea & Ski suntan lotion and Noxzema cold cream, which my mother would keep in the fridge and slather on our sunburns. My hair smelled chronically of chlorine from daily trips to the public pool, and I have fond memories of the sweet cherry sno-cones we would buy at the snack bar after swimming. Summer also meant the odor of musty pages from library books. It meant the smell of rain that would precede a big, wind-tossing, dramatic thunderstorm, which I would watch from the safety of my bedroom window.
To be sure, all summer smells are not pleasant. The stink of garbage or overripe fruit is not particularly pleasant. Nor is the pungent odor of mulch that gets spread around the trees and plant beds all over town. Sweaty children who need a shower – or sweaty adults on the bus who could use one too – are a staple of hot summer days. And walks outside are sometimes accompanied by the occasional whiff of dog poop.
All in all, though, I love smelling like a tropical cocktail or a coconut from the sunscreen or lotion I’m wearing. I like the fresh scent of a crisp cotton or linen shirt. I enjoy going outside and taking in the aromas of flowers and plants that flourish in the summer sun. These scents make me feel freer, less encumbered. And I am really looking forward to absorbing the smells of summer in the months to come.