to me, summer’s not about a specific event. it’s a series of sounds and images and smells that remind me of something past. what year or age at which those things were experienced has long since evaporated, unimportant.
for me, summer is conjured by some swirled melange of strange silence of drive in theaters; cracks in asphalt patched with a thin strip of tar that can be molded (and smelled) as it softens in hot sun; Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’; the sound of beer bottles clinking and people talking, and the feeling of almost sharp cornstalks gently slapping your arms and legs as you walk through the darkness to the middle of a cornfield for a party; riding in the back of what was once a police car with your cousins, singing along to Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded’ as it plays on the radio for what must be the millionth time that day; the silent, breathless laughing induced by repeated rides on the Tilt-a-whirl; watching the heat lightning standing outside in your bare feet; the smell of the air just before thunderstorms arrive, and the sizzling sound those first gigantic drops make as they hit the pavement; laying on your stomach for hours with a record sleeve, trying to absorb all the secret, exciting things it holds, the things you don’t understand yet; the smell of snapdragons; the sound of cicadas droning as you climb trees or lay in the tall grass; the first sight of The Boy who you haven’t seen all summer, since school let out; spending countless hours in the library reading anything and everything when the days were too hot and you had no air conditioning; sweetcorn getting stuck in your teeth; AC/DC, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath blaring from the speakers at the carnival midway; the smell of mosquito repellent and grilling as you serve beer after beer, your feet swimming in a pool of spilled beer as plastic glasses are filled too quickly for money sticky with the same beer…and there’s many, too many more examples.
i’ve had a surprisingly high number of experiences so far this summer that i think will join that list: the slippers that were part of being spoiled rotten at the Venetian; the ice square and the adventure that is Israeli vodka; riding crop vs. pitchfork in a goofily pathetic battle to the death to which tickets should have been sold; a bottle of syrah shared under the stars in the desert; beach blanket bingo and tiki heaven; a gift of ‘Blood on the Tracks’ and added insight; ‘Baker Street’ magically floating through the air as i return to a drive-in for the first time in years, and plenty of other things that i prefer to hold close.
i’ll only remember fragments of them in the long run, but certain images (and songs/sounds/smells) will trigger a memory of a specific favorite day to return fully. that’s a big part of why i keep taking photos, i think. the photo below is just one such example.