Remembering Summertime

Mississippi smells and sounds like my childhood. I wish I could use some sort of media tool to share what I mean, only I think you already know.  There are scents I encounter that resonate with some long ago memory, and when I smell them, I can’t help but think back to the days of summer and of playing outside from sunup to sundown, in what seems to be a long forgotten right of passage for a lot of kids.  When I was growing up, my mother never saw me or my brother, all day long.

We would explore the woods, the same woods we played in most of our lives, but during the summer, it was different.  We followed the same old creek beds, and climbed the same old trees, only summertime made it seem more fun.  Sometimes in the evening, we’d build a campfire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows.  We stole mason jars from the kitchen because there were lightning bugs to be caught.  We sat on our porch steps, eating slices of watermelon and listened to the whippoorwills at dusk.

This morning I was on my run, heading down Old Highway 4.  Running in Mississippi is a heady experience for me.  Aside from seeing deer, a cottontail, and what looked like a Mountain Bluebird, I also recognized a lot of the same scents from back when I was growing up.  Honeysuckle, the blackberries – which are early because of the heat I suppose – the smell of certain trees (cedar, pine, and magnolia).  Last night I heard a whippoorwill, the first, I think, in about thirty years or more.

Around the house here, which is set back from the road quite a ways and surrounded by massive oaks, black walnut trees and pines, there is an abundance of the usual bird and bug noises.  There’s meadowlarks, wrens, and sparrows, as well as cicadas, but it’s also the pond and the frogs competing with one another at night, along with crickets, that remind me of night time when I was younger.  My brother and I used to sleep with our windows open sometimes, just to hear these nocturnal noises which put us to sleep.  (And would keep me awake now)

Sometimes I forget, living where I do in a more urban setting, that these scents and sounds still exist.  Oh sure, we’ve been having a great time back in our more citified home seeing the lightning bugs have returned.  Honestly, it seems like it’s been years since we’ve had them blinking and winking at us from under the canopies of our backyard trees.  And sure, I still catch a whiff of honeysuckle, magnolia and gardenia, and our own trees are also filled with various birds and birdsong, but there’s more asphalt in our neighborhood, more concrete and houses, less chance of experiencing such a variety from nature.

Here in Mississippi, we’re surrounded by nothing but a long, winding dirt drive, five hundred acres of farmland and all that comes with it.  Including, somehow, a chance to experience once again, a bit of my youth.

Where do you go to recapture just a little bit of your childhood?

 

 

 


COMMENTS

  • Carolynnwith2Ns

    June 29, 2015

    Reply

    We live in the woods and occasionally I hear the bird sounds I used to hear while lying in bed at my grandparents house, which is about forty-five minutes away. Funny how I wandered so far from here and yet ended up in the one place where our roots run so deep. I’d love to know what bird it is. All I do know is that when I hear it I am transported over fifty summer’s back. Summers there saved this city-kid’s childhood.

    • donnaeve

      June 30, 2015

      Reply

      I live within 45 minutes of where I grew up – coincidentally like your grandparents location – but, b/c that area has grown so much in the past few decades (Raleigh) a lot has changed. Fields my brother and I ran, hid and picked blackberries in are now apartments. The two lane dirt road my dad grew up on became a two lane asphalt road, then a five lane road (WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED blog post) and took out a lot of trees, etc. So, 730 miles away is where I now seem to encounter what reminds me of growing up. It’s still pretty rural here.

      Aren’t you glad you’re still able to find a bit of that so close?

  • Teri

    June 30, 2015

    Reply

    What a lovely list of wonderful and comforting memories. You sound very much at peace.

    • donnaeve

      June 30, 2015

      Reply

      It’s a whole other world here. And yes, definitely feeling at peace and rested. 🙂

  • Susan Schild

    June 30, 2015

    Reply

    Really enjoyed this evocative writing. All the scents and sounds of summer …and of growing up. For me – a river rat – the smell of mud at low tide and the clank of halyards from a neighbor’s boat.

    • donnaeve

      June 30, 2015

      Reply

      That salty briny water aroma – there’s nothing like it, is there? Funny, we’re only about 90 miles from Wilmington and it seems we get within 50 miles of the beach and we can already smell (and feel) the difference in the air.

      “The clank of halyards from a neighbor’s boat.” I could hear that. 🙂

  • Averil Dean

    July 1, 2015

    Reply

    My childhood summers smelled like hot tar and oleander leaves. Your memories are a vast improvement.

    XO

    • donnaeve

      July 1, 2015

      Reply

      Ha. And now I’m thinking about that book, WHITE OLEANDER.

      XO

  • Pheonix

    July 8, 2015

    Reply

    I go to the mountains. I spent most of my childhood away from them, but my best time was in the, “hills.”

    • donnaeve

      July 8, 2015

      Reply

      We spend time in the mountains as well. Matter of fact, our thought process before this trip was something like, “MS or the mountains, MS or the mountains?” We love both places so next trip – mountains.


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