Riding my bike this morning I came upon some road construction, in itself isn’t all that exciting. I was having to dodge a few pieces of road equipment and some tar or creosote that had been sprayed on the dirt and gravel roadway. It was the smell! A smell that took me back fifty some years ago. I lived on a dirt/gravel road for years and during the hot dry months of summer the country road department would come out and spray some kind of black, sticky, thick liquid. Daddy said it was to keep the dust down. I only saw it as a way to keep my friends and I off the road with our bikes. We had to even walk in the ditches until the excess liquid seeped into the dirt. Even then, after spending most of the day barefooted. I would come home with black stained feet. I would endure hard foot scrubbing from my mom during bath time because no one was going to get into bed with what looked like dirty feet. Not in my mom’s house!
After I passed the construction this morning, I got to thinking about all the other smells of my childhood. Aromas that send me back to a more carefree time. No bills to pay, no reporting to a job and no car to keep up. Mostly my only worry was getting what chores I had to do done, staying out of trouble and the foot scrubbing. So many children these days will never experience the things my generation did. Things like, the smell of freshly cut grass, the clean air after a summer rain, the crispness of the first frost, apple orchards when picking apples, hay being baled, mom canning vegetables, fresh lake water, real pine Christmas trees, the first snow, farm and barn orders, flowers growing in the yard and the smell of laundry after is was hung outside to dry.
I think it’s sad that so many people will never have the memories attached to these aromas. To think there are people out there that in their entire life have never climbed between a set of sheets that had just been brought in off the clothes line, in my opinion is more than just sad. There isn’t enough fabric softeners anywhere that can duplicate that feeling and smell. That wonderful freshness lingered on our clothes after mom and ironed them too.
Who knows what the future brings, as I certainly do not. However, maybe fifty some years from now, someone will be thinking about how good the sheets smelled when they came out of the dryer because back then people had fabric softeners. Or how people had fake pine trees in their homes at Christmas times and some actually went out into apple orchards and picked apples!
At my age, I don’t think I need to worry about those changes. So for now, I’m just happy to have the smells in the air that take me back to a simpler time in my life.