Tastes like Summer

dreamsicleA single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.
— St. Francis of Assisi

I love dreamsicles. No, really, you need to understand… I turn into a twelve-year-old when I hear the ice cream truck. I jump up and down and run to find my wallet or the hippie’s pocket, bat my eyelashes, and smirk like a kid that knows what they’re getting for Christmas. And every time the ice cream truck stops, someone brings me back a dreamsicle. They don’t ask what I want. They know. Because I love dreamsicles.

Because they taste like summer.

I heart Ra in general. Sunshine is a good thing. It makes your soul smile and your skin tingle. But if you zero in on the generality of sunshine and just consider summer… well, that’s where I went while savoring the last dreamsicle I had.

I said it tasted like summer to whomever was standing there, and then I thought about that. What else tastes like summer? Better yet, what other senses bring summertime to my mind?

I hit that thought again at work during last week’s heat wave. As many of you know, I abhor shoes. I am barefoot whenever possible, even if it gets me yelled at by certain waitresses that will be missed at HFW this year (Nora!) or other people of supposed authority. As such, I was barefoot at work when I went out to get the mail. Walking across the parking lot was like walking on lava, but instead of cursing the heat, my mind traveled back to a summertime long ago.

When I was seven, we lived in Texas. Across from our apartment building was a giant field, then a 7-11. I was sent to get tomato paste. I don’t know why I remember it was tomato paste mom needed, but I do, because the mind and memory are weird like that. I have no idea what I learned in eighth grade history, but I know thirty-four years ago my mom needed tomato paste. And I was barefoot. And the parking lot of that 7-11 was like lava.

Pavement threatening to blister my feet feels like summer.

And then I remembered what I said about the dreamsicle and I wondered about the five senses of summer again. So I started thinking about it. Dreamsicles taste of it. Hot asphalt feels like it. What looks, sounds and smells of it?

Smell could be lilacs, but that’s cliché and more spring than summer. Bonfires? Perhaps. Because they remind me of parties at the point, burning tires, laughing with friends and sitting on the sand. Sound could easily be associated with the ice cream truck music, but that’s a little too close to the dreamsicle and each sense deserves its own trigger. A new summer sound would be cicadas. They’re loud and obnoxious and absolutely fascinating, if only because they’re still new. Perhaps next year that will sound like summer. This year, it’s too fresh and sound will have to settle for being… I don’t know. And I don’t have any idea what summer looks like to me. I’ll have to think about these things. Or rather, pay attention. Because I don’t believe I can just remember, or decide, what summer smells, looks or sounds like. Not with that same rush of warmth through my chest that the dreamsicle and asphalt brought to me. Not with that tickle in my mind that reminded me of childhood summers and the escapism brought with them. I think those things have to be experienced with an “Ah-ha” moment, where I become twelve again and declare “this” smells like summer.

Moments of declaration are a strange thing. In this case, a whimsical thing. Equating a sense to a season is just a fun exercise in silly at this point. But silly is good. It keeps you young. It makes you buy sidewalk chalk and blow bubbles in the house. I keeps your spirit high when stress wants to drag it down. And it helps you live the only life you’re going to get.

Summer is different now (sorry mom, I’m going there). Summer is warmer and lasts longer. It comes earlier and stays late, like a canadian trying to suck the most out of a three-day weekend. It brings fireflies by the droves and a night sky that doesn’t quite look right to me. It smells like tiki torches and feels like the cool water of a kiddie pool. Someday, I’ll figure out the other senses—by accident. Right now, I have a dreamsicle, that tastes just like summer.

0 Responses to Tastes like Summer

  • Kelli says:

    (email from mom)

    Dreamsicles-yeh I get that.

    You were sent to the store for tomato paste-you asked the guy for Apple glue. That’s why you remember it.

    Barefoot. Barefoot in the field. We ran barefoot in all the fields in TX and the Texans had a fit–SNAKES, SNAKES, DEADLY SNAKES!–they even bought us boots. We still ran barefoot.

    5 senses?
    1) Washing my hands and face in COLD pump water at the old cabin, before church Sunday mornings. I was as tall as the pump at Long Lake.
    2)Smell of dead fish on the shore
    3)loons in the morning
    4)Taste of real root beer floats in a frosty mug
    5)Sunsets, bullfrogs, herons, & turtles in the slough

    Love, the mom

    response: oh my god, that’s right! i had totally forgotten about the “apple glue” =)))))

    and ohhhhhhh, smell of dead fish on the shore is a GOOD one!

    Love, the kid (thppp)

  • Nikki says:

    Summer feels like jagged rocks. My friend and I would run barefoot through the city streets and across this lot that had nothing but marbled, jagged rocks. It was what we had to do to get to the Whatchamacallits and Cornnuts on the other side. Summer *feels* like hurty but it *looks* like Bon Jovi…it has for a long time ;)

  • Bob Ford says:

    I’ve been thinking about this since this morning…

    The sound of rain falling down against the tin roof of our house or spring peepers echoing their nightly chorus by the pond. Orioles baseball games on my grandfather’s radio.

    The smell of Ol’ Bay and steamed crabs. Tomato vines in the garden. Honeysuckle. Fresh cut hay. Walnuts still in their green shell.

    Taste of watermelon or wild ramp onions. Raspberries. Sips of ice cold beer from my father’s cup.

    Cold stream water. The touch of fiddleback ferns along the creek brushing against my legs. The lawn, late at night with dew on it.

    Storms rolling in through the valley, watching the thunderheads gather like bruised knots in the sky. Watching the first heavy drops hit the dust of the driveway. Heat lightning. Dust beams in the barn, drifting down onto the hay bales. Fields stretching on and on, their image wavering in the heat.

  • Kelli says:

    “…like bruised knots in the sky.”

    And you wonder why I claim to hate your ability with words?
    loveyoumeanit!

  • wolfnoma says:

    I am going to refrain from this one. Simply because I don’t want to run down that road to my inner child right now and cut him open with a rusty pair of scissors that squeak when opened and send clouds of brown dust everywhere.

  • Jeff Prettyman says:

    Great blog subject.
    My smell of summer sprang to mind immediately: Coppertone. Brown bottle, original flavor. I believe it’s now uv protection #8, and is illegal in many states. My fairskinned, teenaged son cannot gaze at the sun through a window without wearing #40 at the very least. I bought a bottle of CVS brand sun lotion the other day, fashioned to mimic the Coppertone #8, and made the mistake of not smelling the “flavor” in the store. I was crestfallen when I went to apply the sun screen ,poolside, only to be greeted by a faux banana scent.

    “Ma’am, I would like to return this please.”

    “Was there anything wrong with it?”

    “It doesn’t smell like the summer. It smells like banana pudding would smell like in Hell.”

    I’m going to CVS right now, it’s worth a try.

  • Mary S says:

    Sun block, the one with the little girl and the dog, or the palm tree one — that smells like summer. Salty air smells like summer, and freshly spun cotton candy. My aunt’s shore house, lightly musty and moth-bally, smells like summer. Hot sand feels like it, as do cool night ocean breezes across sensitive lightly sunburned skin. The boards of the boardwalk feel like it. That atavistic honking of Seaside boardwalk rides sounds like it, as does the low rumbling of Wildwood’s Tramcars. So does that tat-tat-tat sound of boardwalk game wheels. Tree frogs and crickets outside under the window.

  • Mary S says:

    Oh, and NJ boardwalk pizza – THAT tastes like summer.

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