the smell in the garage


The other evening Brent came in and smelled like the outside. You know, that smell of sweat mingled with sunshine and wind and leaves? He opened the door to the garage and what came tumbling in with him was like a scrapbook of summer memories.

He had just pulled the mower in, and the scent of gasoline and grass clippings was nearly overpowering. Earthy. Strong.

And I thought of the countless rides on the fancy riding mower I spent in my Grandpa's lap. He would let me steer all over his yard, not caring that I was burning fuel. I drove down the hill where I would later get married, and through the back yard where I would cut the cake as a new bride. And then we would pull into the little shed,  he would help me navigate it's small opening, and then turn off the key. And that is when the magic happened. We would sit for what felt like forever, waiting with growing nerves and anticipation. In the quiet, dark shed we sat on the old mower and waited for it to POP! And when it did I would squeal with laughter and surprise and, every time, Grandpa would laugh as if it were the first time.

I thought of the times I would run out to retrieve Dad for supper, watching him walk those neat, straight lines. His socks pulled high, and his black boots pulled over them. On the hottest of days he wore a straw hat to compliment his cut off jean shorts. Speckled with bits of green grass, I would flag him down and let him know it was time to eat. Eventually he let my sister and I try our hand at mowing. But we were slow, it was laborious and we complained, and our lines were jagged and let large patches scattered throughout the yard. Quickly we were hidden, only being allowed to mow the back yard. And soon we did a poor enough job back there that the mowing was once again back in my father's more capable hands. My sister didn't do a poor job on purpose. And I'm not talking.

When I was in Junior High art, we were asked to create something that spawned from a favorite smell that held a lot of memory for us. Nearly everyone in the class chose freshly cut grass. [I chose my fifth grade English teacher's perfume, but that's another story...]. When I was a teacher, I did a sensory writing activity and brought in different smells to spawn writing memories for the kids. One smell I brought in was grass. And every student wrote feverishly on that topic.

Grass and gasoline. Summer is so near.

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