The Scent of Summer

I’m on the brink of summer vacation. I have one more day – tomorrow – to finish out the school year. All of my exams are scored; the seemingly endless task of grading is complete: my grades are finalized (this always comes as a shock to me; I almost don’t believe it); I’ve ticked off everything on the year-end check-out list save one – I just need to organize and prepare my classroom for summer cleaning. It’s been a rough school year – not with my students. No, I’ve had a great bunch of kids this year. It’s been a rough year because of a failed school levy in November, because I lived on the bubble for months not knowing whether I’d have a job next year or not, because my job is safe but 54 of my colleagues have lost theirs, because tomorrow I have to say good-bye to some good friends and wonderful teachers – incredible teachers – some of the most passionate and innovative teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure to teach alongside, because the full effects of the levy failure are going to be excrutiatingly magnified next year, because the anticipation of that is heart-and-gut-wrenching, because I’m fearful that my district won’t recover from this for years.

But, I’m on the brink of summer vacation, and I need it.

As I write this, I am sitting in a reclining chair in my office, laptop on my lap, both windows open, indeed all windows in the house open. I am not a fan of air conditioning. Oh, it has its place, especially when it’s sweltering and humid, as is frequently the case in an Ohio summer; even then, though, my windows are almost always open; my neighbors joke that it must be really, really hot when we close our windows and turn on the air. I have an aversion to being closed in and cooped up in the house; it feels to me like I’m living in an insulated cave, like I’m breathing stale air, so the windows stay open. Today, it is neither sweltering nor humid. It’s a glorious morning. And the windows are open. The birds are singing. Someone nearby is cutting the grass; the whiz and whir of the mower faintly distinct in the distance. I can almost smell the freshly cut grass; the scent hangs in the air, mixed with the perfume of multitudinous blooms, a complex bouquet tickling my nose. Utterly delightful.

This is the scent of summer. It is a nostalgic scent. It transports me back through time and space to my childhood home where the windows were always open because we did not have air conditioning. A scent that restores me to my youth in my happy home with my dad – robust and healthy and alive, my mom, my brother, my sister. It is a fresh scent – a scent tinged with excitement, adventure, carefree fun. It is a scent that promises lazy days. A scent that divines the goodness and presages the endless possibilities of the day. It is a scent that expects me to stay up to all hours of the night and to sleep in late in the morning. At the same time, it is a scent that goads me out of bed to enjoy an invigorating walk at the crack of dawn. A scent the sees me sitting under the shade of a tall tree, reading a good book.

It is a scent that regenerates, rejuvenates, relaxes, renews, revives. And this summer more than most, I need it.

Smell You Later