Summer has always smelled like raspberries. As a child at my grandmother’s house I would wake to the intoxicating perfume of bubbling raspberry jam. That heady scent would rouse my younger brother and I and we would tumble down the stairs into her kitchen, streaming with the morning light, my grandmother stirring those bubbling pots. We would follow her out to the raspberry canes to pick those plump red berries but I confess we ate more then what landed in our baskets.
Our first home as a married couple had raspberry canes in the backyard. I followed my grandmother’s tradition and stirred those bubbling pots to make us jam to last the winter. That smell would catapult me back 50 years to my grandmother’s fragrant kitchen. But during those years other smells have rooted me to summer. Garden flowers have scented the air in our home. Cherry and apple trees in blossom also send me soaring. Apple pies straight from the oven, their heavy cinnamon scent beckon me to the table.
Summer smells of the beach, the salt water and sand clinging to my children’s delicate skin. It smells of coconut suntan lotion as I slather it on them. It smells of the scent of shampoo in their clean hair after a beach day. The watermelon juice sliding from their eager mouths. Summer smells of fruity drinks, of popcorn in the cooling movie theatre, of BBQ’s with friends and family. It smells of the citrus candles we burn to ward off the mosquitoes and sometimes of the tangy smell of fireworks.
Summer smells like road trips, the smell of cities whizzing by, of fields of grass and cattle. Fast food in the car, ice cream in the heat. The sweet scent of my children as I tucked them into bed. The smell of fresh air after a hot summer day.
This summer a new scent has started to permeate the beauty of the season. It is the smell of fear. I fear for my children’s health and safety and well being. I fear for my community’s safety and well being. The country is in turmoil with more shootings, more rhetoric of hatred, racism and divisiveness. The smell of fear is very strong and it seems to be everywhere. In many places it smells like danger.
Summer is no longer innocent nor is it pure. I search for those smells that gave me peace and serenity and they seem very faint. In the early evening where we live today, a daily wind rises up from the west. Some days it is a cooling breeze and other times it is strong and defiant. It brings the clear clean smell of the sea on its wings. I often stand on my deck with my face to the west and the setting sun and breathe that clean air in as deep as as I can. Maybe as a country we can all take that deep cleansing breath and vow to be better and do better. That is my midsummer night’s dream. My hope for us all. Peace.