Drowning and Dreaming

I’m at a loss.

It has rained, it is raining, it will rain.

We get 40% more precip than London, which is saying something. After years in this country I fully understand why people talk endlessly about the weather.

Decades ago my father (I don’t think my mother came along) took me and a friend strawberry picking in a field on Long Island. Lines of strawberry plants in sandy soil as far as the eye could see. Hot day, lots of picking and eating. The smell.

I took my son strawberry picking (plus raspberries and a variety of veg) at a pick-your-own place in Edmonton when we lived in northwest London.

Seriously, my brain is frizzing. The rain isn’t due to stop for another five days and it’s not clear whether we’ll be able to travel outside of the UK this year (well, there’s the Falkland Islands …). My choice in this country would be Norfolk (lavender fields, seafood and incredible beaches [check out the end of Shakespeare in Love for Holkam – I’ve been there; it’s astonishing – the pic of Gwinnie doesn’t do it justice – you walk on sand, climb over some dunes, and you’re on sand flats that go on and on and on during low tide).

But, it’s a six-hour drive from here (which means it would be a six hour drive back, pretty much negating the five days away). Where I live is going to be very busy from June through August. The roads aren’t great here and the people who come on hols cause a lot of accidents. I’m seriously thinking of taking us to London for five days. The dog can hang with friends who do dog care for a living (meaning I trust them to take good care of him). Maybe an Airbnb given most from London will be here. Good food and walking aimlessly.

What I really want is the beach and those summer smells.

Hot fried food. The onion rings from the shack on Hampton Beach in New Hampshire where my parents lived for years. Very hot summers, freezing cold Atlantic. Run in, run out having turned blue, bake yourself on sand. Do it again. I worked one summer at McDonald’s. The late shift (6 pm-1 am). My mother and I would go to the beach mid-afternoon. It made work bearable.

Berries and veg baking in the sun. Going to the pick-your-own place in north London. Strawberries, raspberries, squash, beans. Hot sandy soil. The smell of ripe fruit. Getting freshly bake scones from the farm shop. Sitting at picnic table after the picking eating a modified cream tea.

Horses. Even though I don’t ride here (I might start again after a lifetime) a lot of people keep horses. Not rich people. Normal people with normal jobs who decades ago bought a field (which would now cost the earth) and keep a couple of horses. If you walk through the village a few miles south (which the dog and I did yesterday) there are always people riding . Everyone knows to stop their car and wait till the riders and mounts have passed by. When it’s hot the world smells of horse, manure, hay and leather tack. Given the village is uphill from the estuary and two miles from the ocean, add in salt air.

It’s pouring again. Just pounding down. I took a pic but it doesn’t do the water justice.

Please tell me some wonderful hot weather stories with associated smells.

  • Patty says:

    Rain, I completely love it for two days, and that third day is…. um, nope! Living in Denver was great for that, it never rained long, and I think we were in the top five cities for number of days of sunshine per year. But the city was just not the one I moved to 3 decades ago. I get more rain here, but it tends to come and go, mostly come the last week, and I really need it to go! Even if it’s not raining, it is cloudy. And doing gardening in 70+ cloudy, humid air is so not fun. The pool is ready, though, I have a gorgeous gardenia with blossoms that won’t end in a pot, some plumeria for another pot coming and a banana treed. I have some serious soul searching ahead of me at the end of summer and before the weather reaches 40 and below on where these Zone 8+ plants are going to go. I may need to configure a little hothouse where my pool shelter is. But something, I love tropical stuff, but I don’t want to live there either!

  • March says:

    It has been weirdly dry here for weeks (usually April showers bring May flowers in my area). My summer memories are a relentless sun in a hazy white sky, and tarmac so hot it burned my bare feet. Aimless roller skating through our quiet neighborhood. The intense heat and humidity of summer in the mid-Atlantic, the succulent smell and taste of fresh white Georgia peaches in July, ice cold cans of grape soda from the gas station vending machine. Cicadas constantly singing in the background, all our windows open because at that time, like many neighbors, we had no air-conditioning, not even window units. Sleeping porches were the norm. Summer was when everything miraculously slowed down. I hope it stops raining on you soon.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Oh, peaches. I’ve read about sleeping porches but never actually been in one. Will have to look up images. And indeed that slowing down …

  • Dina C. says:

    From ten years ago: the local suburban swimming pool with smells of chlorine, coconut tropical sunscreen, some kids yelling “Marco,” “Polo!” while other little kids are sucking on fruity flavored Ring Pops they won for having swum across the deep end of the pool at a swim team meet. Nowadays, my kids are young adults, so my summer scent memories are no longer centered around the pool. Join me in the local public library with its blast of air conditioning and the hush that descends as we leave suburban traffic behind. The smell of newly printed books as we pass the New Releases rack and head to the Mystery section. That delicious scent of older, decrepit books in the stacks along with some dust promises a wonderful week of reading ahead.

  • Cinnamon says:

    First, just wanted to say a general thank you. It’s raining again and I really appreciated reading the comments.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    What I am waiting for is the bard Owls to start making their calls at night. I don’t have a lot of smells associated with summer. I am hoping that this summer to either take a day trip or an overnight night trip to somewhere but I don’t think the lilacs will bloom this year. This spring has been too cold and wet for a lot of flowers.

    • Cinnamon says:

      We have had lilacs but they aren’t hugely happy. As you say, too cool and wet. I am hoping for the magnolia grandiflora which seems to survive most weather. Owls. Neighbours have mentioned seeing them in the fields here. I never have. Hawks and other birds of prey — no owls.

  • Neva says:

    I feel you, Cinnamon…it’s raining as well as I write this. The sky is grey so it’s no quick downpour but it will be raining the whole morning I suppose. Such weather surely works on the mood of some of us.
    As I live in Croatia, we spend many weekends and all our summer holidays at the coastside. I have many childhood friends there and every year when we meet (for 50+ years already) we make a few boat trips together. The magical moment I always remember is the ride back in the late afternoon or evening – some of us sit on the bow as the old boat glides through the sea, the only sound is the monotonous sound of the motor. You can feel the warm evening wind on your skin, in your nostrils, and it carries the smell of immortelle, the salt and the motor oil…such a bliss 🙂

    • Cinnamon says:

      I am sorry to say I think our rain is moving itself east. Our rain cleared around 8 last night (it started again today). A friend in London complained that it started raining early evening there and did so until 5 AM.

      The smell of immortelle. How incredible. I’ve only smelled it in perfume — never ‘in the world’.

  • Tanja says:

    I love the smell of the Tuscan macchia in the high heat of summer, this was the smell of all our holidays as a child.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I’ve read about macchia regarding Sardinia. Is the makeup the same in Tuscany? Sounds like the kind of thing where you just close your eyes and breathe in.

  • Portia says:

    Hey there Cinnamon,
    Jin and I have returned from our grand central Australian adventure on the Ghan. It’s late Autumn here but the north and centre of our beautiful continent were warm and dry. Darwin was in the early 30Cs and Alice was around 27C.
    Sadly there’s no ocean or estuary swimming in Darwin because the salt water crocs are real and close until deep winter hits. We did have a little walk along a beach though, just down from the yacht club and I popped just my tootsies in the water as it waved up to us.
    The best smell for me on the whole trip was the super luxurious (to me) scent of train travel. It’s an interesting conglomeration of trains, people, dust and cooking. The Bar Car has the added hit of everyones fragrances and a coffee machine.
    We also spent a night grooving in my mates club in Darwin, THROB. It’s been a LONG time since I went to a club and stayed dancing till the morning hours. I can’t describe the smell exactly but it smells like home to me. Booze, old booze, sweat, expectation, cleaned uncleanliness. Had a great time dancing the night away with the youth, who didn’t care there was some dinosaur in their midst and who always smiled when we caught eyes.
    Portia x

    • Musette says:


      They would’ve bowed, had they (and you) not been so busy dancing.


    • Cinnamon says:

      Oh, Portia, your travel stories. Thank you. I would love one day to take the Orient Express from London to Venice. Now that would be a train journey!

      • Portia says:

        Oh yes Cinnamon. The Orient Express is on our list too. So many amazing train journeys to take before we do that one though. I think it should be the last.
        We still have three major train trips to take within Australia before heading back out into the world. Indian Pacific, Great Southern and Overland.
        Portia xx

  • Musette says:

    oh, honey. I can feel the desperation from over here. It will stop raining. It will. I can’t tell you hot weather stories because we’re getting rained on as well – but I can tell you horse stories. I just started riding again – but mostly working on tack right now. That and dismount. My instructor was worried I might be bored working in the arena all the time and was pleasantly surprised to find out I don’t care if we spend all the damb time there – I’m trying to reacquire my seat and balance (from that cracked sacrum) for a graceful dismount. We will be in that arena for a minute ;-).

    Fell ponies and Freisans. Good, solid horses to work on.


    • Cinnamon says:

      It is desperation. I’m really sorry to say that but we had a perfectly good start to spring and then it all went pear-shaped. Road into village flooded last night.

      That sounds great on returning to riding (how did you crack your sacrum — have I asked that already?). If I do start riding again I am anticipating have verrrry sore thighs for weeks. But that smell of horse etc will be worth it, I think.

      • Musette says:

        A few (5?) years ago I took 2 falls: an alley-oop in my icy driveway (the same type of fall killed a client of mine a week before my own fall) – and, later in the year, a ridiculous sprawl on a single piece of gravel (Life is just absurd sometimes). Sacrums are not easy to fix, alas, so they gave me meds and sent me on my way. Nina Zolotow (of Yoga for Healthy Aging) said ‘squoo that’ and got me off the cane, out of my own terrified head and back on my feet. And horses are also helping, which is counterintuitive – but it’s true!


        • Cinnamon says:

          ack. that’s scary. will look at Nina Zolotow. I love my yoga but it’s always helpful to learn things that get you out of your head.

          • Musette says:

            she is amazing – a perfect blend of pragmatism and extraordinary abilities to see inside you, get your out of yourself. I owe her my life, I think. xoxoxo

  • Tara C says:

    Montreal baking in the shimmering heat, walking down the street in a strappy sundress and sandals, eating ice cream and sitting under a shady tree. Watching the fireworks go off near the Jacques Cartier bridge, sitting outside at midnight listening to jazz music and going for poutine (chips with gravy & cheese curds) at 2am on the way home. The sudden wind and darkening skies before the heavens open in a 15 minute thunderstorm, running to shut the windows, then clearing to sun and steaming petrichor smell.

    • AnnieA says:

      This is making me homesick for my hometown, a second summer I won’t be able to visit. Vancouver is green and pleasant, and there are far worse places to have been stuck for 14 months and counting, but oh, the bloodwarm air of a Montreal summer night…

    • Cinnamon says:

      What an evocative listing. I yearn for that summer dressed ice cream experience 🙂

  • Tati says:

    Living in San Diego… the smells of the hot sun baking the asphalt of the roads where I go walking. The menthol-smell of the eucalyptus trees. Then the pure heaven of the orange trees and whiffs of star jasmine just coming into bloom.

  • Teresa says:

    Living in the desert Southwestern US in Phoenix, AZ…the smell of the late afternoon monsoon downpours in the summers of my childhood (the rains come in the middle of the night now due to global warming) Desert rain produces a unique scent of petrichor and desert sage and steamy soil and there is nothing else like it….the scent of renewal and survival and comparative coolness, knowing you can make it through yet another scorching day in the desert.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Petrichor. Looked it up. What a wonderful word. Would you add ‘magic’ to renewal, survival and comparative coolness?

    • March says:

      Petrichor. The most sublime, emotional smell. Even reading the word brings tears to my eyes.