The Scents of Summer

By Brenda Buchanan

This time of year is one long olfactory system celebration.

You can fill your lungs with the sweet smell of a just-cut hayfield.

Huff the scent of ripe strawberries.

Stick your face right up close to a rosa rugosa bush (watch out for bees!) and inhale nature’s perfume.

It’s high summer in Maine, friends, and it sure smells good.

How can you not love the smell of a campfire?

Of chicken being grilled low and slow?

The salt on your skin following an after-work dip in the ocean?

A blessed sea breeze on a muggy day?

In June, July and August I sometimes feel like a black lab with my head out the window, gulping in all the smells that are mostly absent during the nine months between September and May.

Ozone after a big lightning storm.

Ice cream. (If you don’t think ice cream has a smell, your first job must have been doing something other than scooping cones for jillions of Little Leaguers who’d just won the big game.)

The well-oiled pocket of a baseball mitt.

Yes, some summer smells are to be endured.

The compost bucket when it sits too long on the counter.

The acrid stench of road paving.

A skunk going off in the middle of the night.

But those nose-wrinklers make the good ones all the sweeter.

Running over the mint patch with the mower.

Fried clams.


Happy summer to all of you, and to your noses, too.

 What are your favorite summer smells and why? Please share in the comments. Backstory gets bonus points!

Brenda Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available through the Carina Press website, http:// and everywhere else quality ebooks are sold.


This entry was posted in Brenda's Posts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Scents of Summer

  1. Anne Cass says:

    You nailed most of them! The air just before a thunder and rainstorm…used to watch the clouds rush over Bread Loaf Mountain as we summer students sat on the porch of Larch House waiting for the bell for dinner…there is a soft pungency, indescribable and indefinable, yet wholly identifiable.

    And a spring smell…the lilacs, bringing memories of Memorial Day high school band outings in our heavy polyester uniforms, sticking new
    Y-blossomed lilac sprigs in our hat brims as we bussed from one tiny NH town parade to the next, then listened to one of our band mates float the sad and resonant notes of Taps respectfully over the cemetery.

    • Thank you for such an eloquent response, Anne! I was hopeful this would evoke some lovely stories this morning. I especially like “new Y-blossomed lilac sprigs.” Yes.

  2. David Plimpton says:

    Thanks, Brenda, for rekindling some of the blessings of good weather.

    Some of mine. The ascent of orgeat (almond) syrup as I struggle not to overpower my not necessarily first Mai Tai.

    A waft of subtle perfume as a woman swishes away from what was our table. I want to ask her the name of the perfume, but it’s too late for that and I struggle to instill in my head what will be my last pleasant memory of her.

    The pure smell of a pine forest – needles, sap, whatever – deepened by the scent of fresh rain, the solid canopy and clouds combining to create a darkness awakening ancient fears.

    The aroma of freshly-cut hardwood, part of the redemptive reward of cutting and splitting your own winter fuel.

    The rich smell of ripe peaches compensating for the peach fuzz from hours of summer truck farm work, getting into your skin like blown fiberglass and requiring an hour scrubbing in the shower to remove.

    The smell of gasoline fumes, in this case clear, white Amoco high octane premium being proudly pumped into a 1955 Ford with a recently installed replacement 1958 Mercury V-8 engine, creating the illusion of providing pure food for your baby, ready to give you a 110 mph ride on the Tappan Zee Bridge that it could easily do at 1 p.m. in the morning, when you could see any looming threats from either direction in the bright bridge lights.

  3. MCWriTers says:

    Oh yes. Chopping fresh basil for a salad. The green and grassy smell of a freshly mown lawn and the hotter smell of a hay field. August seems to have a smell of its own–a hot, herby, slightly dry scent that floats on the summer wind. Ponds have their own smells too, something vegetative and almost dank, yet cooling and natural. There’s a dusty smell of disturbed earth when you weed the garden, and it’s very own smell when you husk the corn for boiling. All of this makes me want to rush to the shelf and find my describer’s dictionary and Rodale’s Synonym Finder. Of just go outside and inhale.

    With your magical ability to observe and render, it’s no wonder you had to become a writer.


  4. Freshly cut grass. For me that’s the smell of summer!

  5. Amber Foxx says:

    My New Mexico smells of summer:
    Petrichor: the rare and sacred smell of rain in the desert. In Southern New Mexico it has a hint of mesquite, in Northern New Mexico, of juniper.
    Sage and juniper heated by the sun.
    Lavender, which somehow thrives here.
    Fresh apricots, which also thrive here.
    The startling cool scent of water when I walk to the Rio Grande at sunset.
    There is no fresh-cut grass to smell, but the lack of mowers and weed-whackers is wonderful.

    • Oh Amber, I was in the high desert once in the winter when there was a sudden rain after weeks of none and you are right, the scents the moisture released were astounding!

      I also know what you mean about the mowers. The one I use is battery-powered (a lithium battery, no less, kind of like in a Prius) so it emits a not-unpleasant hum. But some in our neighborhood mow with unmuffled monsters that make my head ache.

      Thanks for your comments!

  6. Beth Clark says:

    The smell of fir balsam as I walk through the woods after the rain.

  7. Cathy Strasser says:

    The scent of sheets dried outside on the clothesline.

Leave a Reply