S’mores, salty ocean breezes, veggie burgers on the grill, sweaty people on the bus — what’s the smell you associate the most with summer?
I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the skylark sings with me:
O what sweet company!
These lines from William Blake’s The Schoolboy spreads an unknown energy through me, its past 5.45 in the morning and I rush out of my house for my morning walk, the later I am the greater my loss. As I walk along my routinized path and hear the soothing cooing of the cuckoo my lips instantly round up and my throat prepares to sing along just when I realize that I am a tad too grown up for it. On my way I see the lovely tiny road side blooms which smell as pleasant as the blades of grass. There are already a lot of people out early for their regular morning walks, jogging or other exercises before the sun mocks harshly upon them. On returning home after having completed my regular rounds of the stadium I find the newspapers lying where they were dropped meaning that the others are not up as yet. Stooping down to pick them up, I inhale deeply to get the fragrance of the freshly bloomed roses in my garden. The fresh summer morning air brings a whiff of the refreshing smell of basil to vie with that of the roses.
Summer months are not my favourite and I attend to the rest of my household chores dripping in sweat, which is quite irksome, mentally chalking out my plans for the day. Tasks completed, I have a good bath before setting out for the day. The freshness of eau de cologne lingers as I move out of the house, quite thankful that others may not have to bear the brunt of my sweat. The inviting smell of the king of fruits, ripe mangoes and jackfruit greet me as I walk adjacent to the marketplace. Did I smell any over ripe or rotten fruits? I am jerked back to reality as a bus pulls to a halt at the bus shelter. Stepping inside it is a great relief from the scorching sun, but my nostrils are put to task. There is the mixed smell of sweat and an array of perfumes and deodorizers used to keep the smell of sweat at bay, which fail some people miserably letting them down. My destination reached, I manage to squeeze myself out of the bus and oh boy, what a mixture of smells I carry on myself!
Having accomplished my various missions running around the entire day and the sun bowing down to smile upon another part of the globe, I stroll to the nearby sea side where crowds are gathering in the evening to escape the heat. Making the most of it vendors are seen luring people to buy their wares of small paper cones of hot fried groundnuts. Far away in a corner I notice an old lady fanning a cart top coal fire surrounded by lots of people. Walking in her direction I manage an elbow space to place an order for a roasted corn on the cob for myself. It is interesting to watch her process of grilling the corn until the sweet corn kernels are nicely blackened. A wedge of lime is dabbed into salt and a potent mixture of spices, the patent to which is solely hers, and rubbed generously onto the roasted corn cob. My nostrils eagerly take in the aroma of gently roasted corn and the spices with a dab of lime as my teeth sink into the typical Indian styled roasted bhutta, corn on the cob. Wow, this is delicious and arouses the child in me.
A strong gush of air brings in the salty smell of the waters and along with it the murky smell of decaying objects washed ashore by the waves. This cannot be taken by me for long and so I walk on to the nearby park munching my corn steak. Be it summer, winter or spring the little children are making merry oblivious of their surroundings. Parents accompanying them cool down on benches keeping a watchful eye on their wards and exchanging pleasantries with friends. Occasionally a child can be seen running up to its parent to demand a drink to quench his thirst. Smart parents have brought water and fruit juices along but their smarter kids would like to have ice creams or tender coconut water sold just outside the park, the flavors of which tempt even grown ups. The air is dotted with the smell of juices, tender coconuts and ice creams and mildly scented with the night blooms opening up.
Having had a long day, I retreat homewards and am caught by surprise and forced to seek cover. The sweltering heat is being tamed by the first summer showers. People caught unawares are running helter skelter for shelter. Parents are seen providing handkerchiefs, newspapers and what not to their children to protect them from the sudden downpour. Small rivulets form in no time tempting children to make paper canoes. Youngsters are out enjoying in the rain. Oh, how I love the musky smell of the earth after the first rainfall!