The smells told you it was the high summer, too.
When you ran outside in the morning, the temperature was already above 70 and the humid air had a sharp tang and crackle to it. Somewhere a Dad had mowed the lawn within the last 24 hours, and the spicy odor of cut grass salted the air. This always brought a sneeze and made my eyes water, because I was allergic to cut grass — particularly when it came time to mow our own lawn.
In the woods surrounding our neighborhood the smells told of dampness and decay. Fallen trees were slowly rotting, covered with fungus and mold, and the forest floor was carpeted with a layer for decomposing leaves and branches that sank into the soil when you stepped on them. At the creek bed there was the clean, sharp scent of water and mud and stones slick with algae and moss.
But the smells I most associate with those long-ago summers were of the Kool-Aids, the frozen lemonades, and other drinks that every savvy neighborhood Mom had ready to pour out to the sweaty boys who might track dust into their kitchens at any moment. When the manufacturers of those drink mixes said they were flavored, they weren’t kidding! The smells and tastes were overpowering. No need for subtlety! Even a person whose taste buds and olfactory lobes had been disconnected couldn’t fail to detect the “flavors.”
The flavored drink mixes had the most intense scents, with grape and cherry being the most pungent. If kids in the neighborhood had set up a lemonade stand and had mixed the concoction themselves, you had to brace yourself. Just smelling a pitcher of grape Funny Face drink made you feel like you’d been immersed in a can of Welch’s, and even a small sip of the sugary liquid would cause severe mouth pucker. No one could drink it without immediately chasing it with a glass of cool water.