Took a walk this evening. My work keeps me out of town much of time and in the Maryland-West Virginia area, in the Allegheny Mountains. So my hikes offer a great view of green mountains, rock faces and hilly terrain. Tonight the woody scent of the trees mingled with the smell of smoke caught my attention—probably some backyard fire to celebrate the summer with Smores and stories. Crickets sang in the background. Kids ran in yard playing some game made up on the spot. A dog barked somewhere, and neighbors chatted across a fence.
I remembered another time in my life when I was eleven and went to a boys’ camp. The smell of the wood and smoke reminded me of the forest and campfires where we cooked food from cans, told ghost stories and sang silly songs. In a clearing, we’d play capture the flag long after sunset and into the dark, chasing shadows and calling to teammates. At night we lay in small tents that smelled of mold and dirt, trying to get comfortable on the hard ground. Sleep never came until after midnight, and, once and a while, we’d sneak out and hide in the dark, listening to the counselors, most of whom were college men working the summer, tell each other stories of girls and sports and school. In the morning, we’d rise again and eat pancakes made on a propane cook stove, by a guy named Coach, who always warned us of a fate worse than death if we complained about the cooking. And we’d dream of new adventures.
Funny how a smell or a sound or a voice brings back a memory.