If it is not possible to indulge in a season in this way, then there wouldn’t be certain smells and tastes that inarguably belong to summer. Eating watermelon at a picnic table on a sunny afternoon is a summer pastime for many people. Similarly, children establish roadside stands on quiet summer days, trusting that the allure of a cold lemonade on a hot day will fill their piggy banks with quarters. Rain, when it hits scorching asphalt, creates a smell that escapes description, though that pleasant odor is known to all, and unmistakably a staple of sweltering months.
Perhaps this is why the Creator established the cycles that rule the natural world. Corn, oranges, daisies, and wheat flourish in the heat, blessing humanity with their fragrant aromas and honeyed nectars.
It is no coincidence that certain flavors and scents are embedded in a small fraction of the year. It is also no accident that the sense of smell is most strongly connected to memory, followed closely by taste. When the nose catches a fleeting odor or the taste buds register a succulent feast, the brain responds and moments in time are automatically recalled. Often, these nostalgic reveries are emotional, and at times deeply spiritual.
The fact of the matter is, summer is begging us to experience it. When we taste summer in the bite of a ballpark frank, when we smell summer in the smoke of a grill, neurons fire, endorphins flow, and consciousness runs face first into a brick wall of a memory. But why? What good is this reliving of a moment or re-experiencing of a feeling?
Perhaps these reminiscences are a call to action. Feel something. Do something. Respond. Our ancestors learned this lesson long ago. In their world, fear equaled flight. Contentment was a cue – do this again, it is good for you.
So what is our call to action? Why should the smell of cut grass or the taste of watermelon speak to us so powerfully? What is summer trying to tell us? Why communicate through nostalgic whisperings?
Could the message be as simple as a call to slow down? Is summer asking us to take in the world around us, to create new memories that complement old ones? It seems easy, even inconsequential, but could be a monumental task in an age of distraction. Thousands of stimuli are constantly demanding our attention – work, technology, entertainment. In a world like this, it’s easy to miss the beauty of a season – swimming in lakes with friends, watching fireworks with family, barbequing with neighbors, riding bikes with our kids until long after the sun has retired for the day.
If we slow down, if we truly taste and smell summer and allow it to register in our inner beings, and if we heed its call, perhaps we will find an experience more rewarding than those waiting in our pockets or on our desks. Perhaps we will see the beauty of a life lived intentionally.