One of the smells I associate most strongly with summer is the smell of smoke. But it doesn’t work unless the smoke is drifting in on the morning wind. It has to be a grass/wood smoke, thicker in the morning…in the summers in Prince Albert, every morning on the radio, there was a Forest Fire report, and there was a ‘smoke index’. Some days, you were advised to stay indoors because the smoke was so thick.
You’d be wiping ashes off your windowsills every morning, washing the ashes off the car every morning.
At night, the smoke in the air made the sun look like a huge crimson yolk, suspended mystically in an umber-coloured sky.
Sometimes the flames licked a little too close to the city, and people were evacuated in to the local high school, or sports stadium, or girl guide hall. The fellow I was in love with one summer had a family home on 24 hour watch every summer. One year, I went out there to help them back-burn and dig burn ditches. His mum spent most of one day watering the yard, the sheds, and the house, to protect it from the sparks.
I hear these ‘forest fire reports’ down here, and they make me smile. Generally, double the number of forest fires they report. Pretend at night you can hear the crackle of distant flames, or that your eyes sting every day. Pretend that all your clothes smell like campfire, after five minutes out of the dryer.
These are summer things.