Beatrice Emma Parsons (1869-1955)
The Smell of Summer
Pencil and watercolour heightened with white
While some might label themselves visual – needing to see something to understand it – I consider myself an “olfactory” person, meaning my sense of smell is strong and has the power to create moods, transport me to another time and place and generate certain emotions.
I know that summer has really arrived when I smell it. For me it’s not barbeque grills, suntan lotion or even freshly mown grass.
It’s the scents of nature, the smell of the soil and the atmosphere.
Early morning smells are different from those of midafternoon, and different still from the evening scents.
I walk outdoors in the early morning and breathe in the damp, almost musty smell of the earth awakening from a restful sleep, the lingering scent of dew on foliage.
By midday the smell of the heat takes center stage, as dry, humid air has a scent all its own. Then, as night approaches, sweet scents of night blooming flowers – honeysuckle, flowering tobacco, evening primrose – woo the olfactory sense.
The sounds of summer also are special. Who can resist listening to the crickets, frogs and night-singing Mockingbird? But it’s the scents that best define the season for me.
Smelling the Abelia bush in bloom takes me back to late summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch. Honeysuckle evokes memories of rides down country lanes in late afternoon with the car windows down, wind on my face.
Freshly plowed plots remind me of daddy’s vegetable garden; I smell the earth and see him there, hoe in hand, carefully checking the progress of his tomatoes.
Summer has a special meaning for most people, defined by vacations, the beach, suntans, swimming, picnics and the like. But give me the scents of summer and my memory bank allows me to travel to places and people I shall never see again.
Sweet scents and sweet memories.