Your Turn: Scents of Summer

Margaret Bergen sent this photograph of a Duchesse De Brabant tea rose from her garden in northern Florida; it was taken by her husband, Fred Bergen. She writes: “The fragrance is both reliable and intense. This is a rose you can count on being able to smell at any time of day or night, under any conditions. The scent is the essence of Tea, a strong, dry, slightly acrid sweetness that is very memorable.”

There are many flower scents I enjoy in summer: roses, linden flowers, honeysuckle, jasmine. But if I had to say what is the scent that is most emblematic of summer to me, I think it would be the scent of rain on hot asphalt. Hmmmmm!

What is the emblematic scent of summer for you?

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  1. Lu Merritt   •  

    What an exquisite flower and what a beautiful photograph!

    Thanks for your mention of the scent of rain. If I had to pick one summer fragrance, that would be IT, because it is so hot here in Florida in the summer that the scent of rain—especially if it precedes the rain itself, like a subtle announcement of an upcoming shower—is always welcome!

    I’ve heard that some people cannot smell rain; that’s sad, because they are missing out.

    When I was growing up in Orlando, the summer thundershowers came every afternoon about 3 p.m., like a clock. If it rained long enough, it was cool for the rest of the day. If it only rained for a short time, stepping outside after the shower was like stepping out into a sauna.

    For the past few years, though, our summers have been characterized by drought conditions. I think perhaps that all the building and paving over of wetlands that has gone on in our state has affected the natural water cycle of evaporation/condensation/rain.

    This summer, however, we have been blessed with more regular showers, so I am reminded of the weather patterns of my childhood—which is good, because I’ve decided I don’t much like global warming. Too hot!

  2. Diane   •  

    There are many smells but what comes most to mind: the rich scent of warm pine needles (think campground), the fruity and sharp smell of salvias brushed in the garden, and the smell of tomato plants.

  3. Solitarieone   •  

    Growing up in the late 60s/early 70s in Florida, summer always smelled like coconut oil, the Gulf waters, limes, baby oil, and patchouli. Now that we’ve know it’s not good to slather yourself in baby oil and lie out in the sun all day, I’m still able to reminisce with body sprays, cologne, air fresheners, candles, and incense that have these same memorable fragrances. One whiff and I’m 16 again and back on the beach!

  4. Rhea   •  

    For me, summer smells of mingled chocolate mint and rosemary – OK, they don’t sound like they’d go very well together, but at my central California location, they both grow like weeds! As people and pets move around the yard, it is nearly impossible not to brush against one or the other, and the smells speak of summer and sun. And then it gets me thinking – what can I cook with that?

  5. Danielle   •  

    Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil! It reminds me of summer vacations at the beach, and I use it as a moisturizer all summer to take me back to the Jersey Shore, even when I am stuck in the office!

  6. Susan   •  

    The summer scents I love best are the beach roses on Cape Cod, and of course the sea air itself. When the petals are dried, the wonderful fragrance lasts for months. I haven’t figured out how to capture the scent of the sea.

  7. Joanna   •  

    A few nights ago, we were driving along 4th Ave in Vancouver BC around 11:30 PM, and a strong scent of jasmine drifted into the car. It lasted for several blocks. Heaven in the middle of the Big City.

  8. Emily   •  

    Night-blooming Jasmine, sweet nectarines, strawberries, delicate raspberries, cut grass. The pungent smell of a coming summertime thunderstorm.
    Also, since I spend more time outdoors with the horses in the summer, the smell of dirt, leather, sweat, hay and that unique scent of a horse all mixed together – makes my heart flutter with joy at the longer days!

  9. Emily   •  

    OH – and the smell of the lake I grew up on…
    Seems to me each lake has its own special scent. I moved away for college, finally returned home after 12 years and swam in my childhood lake again for the first time on the 4th. It was like I was 10 years old all over again and it was just another summer on the shores of the lake.

  10. Waverly Fitzgerald   •     Author

    Loving the comments you’ve submitted. They are all so evocative. I too love the smell of baby oil and anything with skin lotion with coconut reminds me of days spent by a swimming pool or at the beach.

    And yes, warm pine needles, and I’m back on family vacations in the high Sierras.

    Some of these are scents I don’t know and I long to smell them.

    I had never thought before about lakes having their own scent, but somehow I know that is true, and am now fascinated at the idea of doing research.

  11. mame   •  

    here in northwest ohio, a very common scent of summer is not necessarily a welcome one, but many days in the warm months you will catch a whiff from a local dairy or pig farm somewhere that has traveled on the breeze for miles, and although you cannot see a farm anywhere, and the smell is not pleasant, it still reminds us that summer is here!!

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