It’s late August. The last days of summer. Hot days and high humidity make for lazy afternoons, sitting on the front porch, waiting for the elusive breeze to ever so slightly stir the tree branches bringing the anticipation of minuscule relief from the late summer heat. White fluffy clouds slowly drift overhead offering little to hide the rays of the hot summer sun.
One can detect a scent of fresh-cut hay in the warm gentle breezes as the neighboring farmers are in the fields making hay, thankful for the weeks of accommodating hot dry weather. That scent intertwines with the aroma coming from the kitchen. The sweet smell of homemade bread or jellies from freshly picked berries and fruits, drift thru the open windows and the front screen door.
Then, from nowhere, a roll of thunder can be heard. Suddenly, with as much surprise as the thunder, rain pours from the blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Large droplets falling straight downward and the music of nature’s Summer Rain begins, and you sit back, eyes closed, and listen as the orchestrated overture of nature sweeps you to unknown places. Beginning with the sound of the rain as they pluck each leaf of the trees, then crescendos, adding rhythm from raindrops hitting the roof along with the percussion from over filled gutters creating a waterfall to the ground below. One can feel a mist in the gentle breeze of the falling rain along with the wonderful scent of a Summer Rain. Then, as quickly as it came, the rain stops. Nature’s overture fades with the sounds of lingering drops from the tree leaves and eaves of the front porch. Opening your eyes, everything is greener, you smell the sweet cleansing scent in the air. Refreshed.
It was a recent summer rain that brought back so many memories. I wondered if kids today could have similar childhood memories? Summer rains come and go, but does anyone take in the wonders and relevance nature can create in our lives, intermingling with the day-to-day scents and aromas around us?
Unfortunately, for most kids these days, they don’t share the fond memories as we older folks do. Our homes had a variety of scents and aromas arising from the different seasons of the year, but then our mothers were stay at home moms, and most of our foods were homemade, home-grown, hand-picked, or home canned, and when similar scents touch upon your sense of smell as an adult, memories are unlocked and your swept back to those childhood days.
I find it amazing how many memories from the first 17 to 18 years of our lives can be stimulated by the sense of smell, and is triggered, not only during the holidays, but just about every season of the year, and last throughout our lives. The smell of spring as the snow melts and spring flowers begin to bloom, the scent of freshly plowed fields, and the cleansing scent of the air as it passes through open windows. Summer offers cut grasses, fresh fruits, vegetables, and berries being preserved or canned. Autumn stirs most of my fondest memories with the aroma of the fallen leaves in the air mixed with the tantalizing scents from the kitchen during the fall harvest. And winter, with the mixture of cinnamon and spices used for holiday cooking, fresh homemade breads and rolls, the chili’s and stews simmering on the stove.
But it’s the front porch and summer rains that brings to mind so many memories. Sitting on the front porch on a hot summer day, the scents that nature in summer has to offer mixed with the aroma from the kitchen, and the beautiful sounds and cleansing smell from a mid-summer day rain. Or in the warm summer evenings listening to the drone of the night insects and crickets, watching the green strobe light of the fireflies, hearing stories from parents or grandparents of back in the day, wrapped in the various aromas that one day will trigger the memories of childhood.
During a recent summer rain one of the memories that stirred was of my grandfather. He would take forever to tell a story usually while preparing a home rolled cigarette. As a youngster, I’d wait as patient as possible just to get to blow out the kitchen match he use to light up. He’d’ start a story, then pause to get a paper wrapper and his can of tobacco out of a pocket, then tell a bit more. Another pause to curl the paper and meticulously pack tobacco into it, then continue part of the story while holding the unwrapped cigarette in his hand. Again a pause while he licked the edge of the paper and rolled it up. Then proceed with a bit more of the story. Knowing I was anticipating the striking of the match, he’d pull the matchbox from a pocket, and continue his story while holding the box of matches. Another pause to remove a match from the box. I sat watching, not listening. Finally, the last pause, and the match was scratched across the box and he would hold the match long enough to finish his story and light up his cigarette, then hold out the lit match and I’d run over and blow it out.
Such was the case on one particular hot summer day. It was the mixture of aromas that chiseled its way into my memory. The scent of haymaking in the air combined with elderberry jelly from the kitchen, the sulfur of the lit match along with the burning tobacco, created an everlasting trigger, that to this day whenever any of those scents touch upon my sense of smell, I remember those times sitting on the porch, the hot summer days or warm summer evenings, and the concerts of the hot Summer Rains.
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