Summer Sounds and Scents


On my first day in Iowa City I was treated to the sweet smell of freshly mown lawns as the large machines crawled across the campus grounds. It was a scent I’ve always enjoyed and it has occurred to me that I rarely get a whiff of it at home any more. I don’t know if it is all the chemicals that people douse their lawns with or what. Certainly there is plenty of mowing going on, whether the lawns need to be trimmed or not, the mowers are earning their pay and running their equipment at regularly scheduled intervals.

Another smell I recall from summers gone by is the aftermath of rainfall. I used to think it was actually the rain, but was told it is just the raising of the dust as the drops pelt the earth. When I was a child, there were not recreation centers in every town offering entertainment unlimited to the neighborhood children. We had fun in our own ways and one of them was jumping into our swim suits as soon as a good rain began and dancing around on the street as we got soaked and mini-puddles formed and slid away as each ribbon of rain hit the pavement.

Catching fireflies in jars with perforated lids was a common pursuit after dark and when I moved away I missed seeing the odd little creatures.

The sound of the play by play progress of the downtown baseball games and the announcer’s voice cutting through a quiet afternoon from the radio on the porch of our elderly next door neighbors, while he sat there on a step dreamily smoking, dressed in a white sleeveless undershirt and slacks is also still with me.

Homes were not air-conditioned back then, so neighbors often greeted one another from their porches, or front steps. My mother would cut up an apple and take a bowl of potato sticks (a forerunner of potato chips, I believe) and pour little glasses of grape juice. My sister and I would sit on the steps with her as an escape from the heat of the house, enjoying our treat.


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