Asked and Answered

It’s a hot summer afternoon and the late day sun is baking the concrete and the asphalt and the children in the backyard.

Even the grass is hot under bare feet as the mercury climbs over one hundred degrees and the town swelters.

From somewhere over the Sandias, a mass of clouds, not there ten minutes ago, begins to move and swirl and pick up momentum.

Blackening like a fresh bruise, the clouds grow darker and more imposing right in front of your eyes.

Before moisture is wrung loose, the clouds must announce their presence with all the showmanship of a meteorological Liberace.

Gaudy lightening forks across the sky, splitting into tongues, lapping out for opposite minded currents.

One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four….

An Earth shattering crack shakes the house on its frame and the thunder sounds like the hand of God is ripping the sky asunder.

The cloud’s fireworks rage on, putting on a dry show while pent up demand for the rain grows stronger.

We’re all waiting in anticipation for what Mother Nature has to offer. In the desert, her moisture offerings don’t always make it all the way to the ground before evaporating.

The maddening effect of 7% humidity.

The wailing wind rushes through the streets lifting corners of shingles and twirling tree tops like green haired Troll dolls and rattling every window.

Howling in its intensity, the wind takes patio tables and trash cans and everything not nailed down and turns it on end. Over end. Over end.

Dogs stop howling and begin whimpering, begging to come in.

Children who were brave enough to face the lightening and thunder now race inside as pea sized hailstones on the force of the wind are pile driven into sun burnt skin.

“Ow!” they shout and race for cover.

After the showy display of hard frozen pebbles, the storm is ready to give up its cargo.

Rain, big heavy drops begin falling. No, not lightly first and then harder. Nuance won’t do.

The skies open up and the angels pour buckets out of the clouds and oh holy sh*t is the rain pouring down.

For ten minutes the world is coming apart and you hope the roof holds the walls hold the windows hold and “oh please don’t let that be a tornado.”

And then as quickly as it started, it’s done. The boiling clouds move on, intent on playing out their performance in another town another state another day.

The skies turn blue and the sun picks up where it left off, blazing down on the world below. Quickly, the wet ground starts to warm up.

Ozone lingers in the air and the drying rain gives off a smell of wet, hot concrete and moist earth.

The odor is fresh, clean, pure, natural.

Once frightened children begin to creep outside to play in the last hours of the daylight savings time white hot summer sun that soon enough gives over to pinks and oranges. Stars begin to peek through the sky….

And all of this is meant to answer the one simple question:

“For me, the smell of childhood is…”

Image found over at Visit her site, she’s got some amazing storm photographs.

Apologies to defenders of good grammar. After spending all day writing under someone else’s rules and word count restrictions, a rule breaking stream of consciousness felt *really* good.

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  • Ephraim F. Moya


    For me the mountain was Ladron Peak.

    I remember that smell. Only after a thunderstorm.

    My Mom used to put old clothes on me and my cousin Brei and then she’d let us mud skate on the wet adobe ground. We would slide around until the ground dried. FUN!

    This is what it looked like.

    Good post!


  • Ur Bro

    Nothing like the smell of wet sage and cedar riding in the back of Grandpa Wades pickup a Remington 870 12 guage in one hand and a Coors in the other. Dove hunting near Lovington or Elida…..

  • Karen Fayeth

    Ephraim – Ah, good memories. Since the water would dry up quick, playing in the water and the mud was always a big part of the fun!

  • Karen Fayeth

    Big Bro – Ah Grandpa Wade. Now there’s a whole other trip down memory lane. I always say he’s the first cowboy I ever loved. Half cans of Coors beer, a battered and muddy straw hat, and a laugh to make you laugh right along.

    Thanks for tossing me into the wayback machine!

  • Aaron Lindsey

    Beautifully and poetically written!
    The smells that I remember from childhood are ceder and, for some odd reason, hot vinyl car seats….

  • Karen Fayeth

    Aaron – Thank you!! Oooh, hot vinyl car seats. YES! I know that smell. My mom had a 1969 Buick Riviera. I can smell the blue vinyl, softened from the car sitting in the parking lot outside the public swimming pool.

    Nice pull!!!

  • Ur Bro

    The smell of the Pirates of the Carribean ride in Disney LA. Remember going there on teacher inservice day weekend? We had the whole place to ourselves. I rode that ride 10 times. Every time I smell that kind of musty watery smell I am instantly 17 again…
    Almost but not quite the same smell in Carlsbad Caverns.
    Gun powder and the gamey smell of dove after shooting a box of shells on a dove hunt.
    The smell of garlic cheese as you put it on the hook while trout fishing.
    The incense smell of Pinon on a camp fire.
    The unique smell of casino in Las Vegas
    Dust and tumble weed after a big wind
    The pungent smell of marijuana….oops, dont read that one Ma…

  • Karen Fayeth

    Big Bro – Now I do have to admit there is an unmistakable smell after shooing a gun, especially a shot gun. That fired off gunpowder smell is a good one for me too.

    That combined with the smell of tall pinon trees and sap on the fallen log we’d lean against when dad taught us to shoot all of his guns (at the Cuba camping place) is TOTALLY a good childhood memory.

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