Tonight while I was upstairs getting into my sexy night sweatpants [pathetic, I know] and going through my 83 step face washing routine for bed, I pulled my head out of the sink and was slapped in the face by the most glorious scent breezing in through the open window. I put my still-damp face up to the screen, closed my eyes, and breathed in some kind of God perfume of evening air, grass, and neighboring campfire. It’s so iconic of this time of year that I could smell it anytime, anywhere, and think, Ahhh…it smells like summer.
There were two moments like this on our vacation that stand out distinctly in my memory. The first happened as we descended the path into The Grove of the Patriarchs in Mt. Rainier National Park, a protected patch of 1,000 year old Firs, Pines, Cedars, and Hemlocks. [PS: I fell in love with these trees. Imagine the history they've seen...what the world was like when they sprouted...] The trail was wide enough for me to hold the hand of my daughter next to me, but narrow enough to carve around ancient trees jutting out and claiming forever the piece of earth from which they were birthed. Starting at a higher elevation and then gradually working down to a river speckled with smooth stones, the air grew cooler with the rush of water and the dense shade cast by The Patriarchs. I remember the first deep breath that froze my footsteps: damp and earthy and full of the kind of true pine that everyone wishes they could bottle for Christmas. I turned to my husband and could only say, “Do you smell that?” This was an invisible and difficult to articulate gift: clean air so fresh it nearly took on color and texture.
Days later as we made our way back to the eastern part of the state, we witnessed the green, lush landscape give way to desert and the kind of rolling hills that look like velvet mounds under the sky. In the foreground were little white-ish green shrubs that grew in bundles close to the ground: sagebrush. The windows of our car were completely closed, yet through the vents came the most wonderful surprise of fresh air and living sage. Brandon and I looked at each other at the same time and said simultaneously, “Do you smell that?” [We're creative, aren't we?]. It was such a strong, unmistakable aroma…as though God was giving a gift to Himself. A fragrant offering.
Maybe these things are so memorable because I’m often deprived from the smell of our natural world. I’m closed up in my cozy house with the air conditioning on, adding fake smells of “Mountain Air” to the carpet before visitors stop over. We live in places where kids can more easily identify the smell of Burger King and Theatre popcorn than the living and breathing world beneath our feet. Doesn’t that make you just a little sad?
So my goals for the rest of summer: enjoy the smell of a thunderstorm or the calm after a downpour. Soak up the moments around the campfire when you can smell the oak. Breathe in freshly-cut grass and damp, dewy mornings. Enjoy the smell of summer.