I notice it the minute we pull out of the airport parking lot and hit the winding back roads. I never recognized it in all the years I lived there, long before I met Meadowlarks and grasshoppers, searing wind and flat plains.
Now, though, it’s immediate, tangible. Moist and hot, dense and fertile. A little bit of farm, a little bit of woods.
The scent of summer, of home.
It smells like hot tar and bicycles with plastic waffle-weave baskets and rainbow daisies, banana seats, tassles twisting from the handlebars like pom poms.
Like the smudgy sweetness of newspaper print on fingertips, pulling the red Radio Flyer door to door, slipping pages under welcome mats.
Like afternoons sprawled on splintery wood, Sun-In and Coppertone SPF 8, Casey Kasem’s Top 40, acrid chlorine on warm skin.
Like mornings in the aluminum rocker with the cracked floral cushions, bare feet brushing astroturf, floorboards creaking, Where the Red Fern Grows.
Like towels heavy on the clothesline, cidery apples melting into the grass, blueberries piled into green cardboard containers on the roadside stand, White Owl cigars, Dad in his driver’s cap on the back deck.
It smells like my wedding day, hot and still, veil clinging to my back, Nana’s Chanel No. 5.
We drive from the airport in light the color of sunflowers, the boys next to windows all the way down. I sit between them in the back seat, my hands on their knees, wind on my face. And my dad brings us home.
Have you ever been transported somewhere by a familiar scent?
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Welcome to Graceful Summer, a link-up community here on Fridays through the end of August. We’re sharing stories about the smaller, quieter moments of summer – will you share yours, too?