Paris Goodnight: The smells of July are upon us

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 24, 2022

Some of the smells of July aren’t easy to describe, but I caught a whiff just the other day that reminded me of something from my childhood.

It wasn’t necessarily the best thing that’s ever tickled my nostrils, but whatever it was brought back memories of a stringer full of fish caught with my grandmother at old Carl Cline’s farm pond near Rimertown.

I probably haven’t smelled that particular aroma of bass and bream ready to be fried up in years, if not decades. I’ve done plenty of fishing since then, but not much from farm ponds because you’ve got to know somebody who has one or be among those lucky few who have their own.

That’s not to say I haven’t been lucky enough to enjoy plenty of amazing fishing adventures over the years — from brook trout fishing in Vermont to casting for spottail bass around Charleston, South Carolina, with a former Post staffer who ended up there — but nothing compares to those early fishing trips as a boy.

I always thought the richest man in the world is likely someone who could go fishing anytime he wanted, because even some of those tech billionaires probably have responsibilities that keep them from just sneaking off down the lane to wet a hook whenever they jolly well want to.

I don’t know exactly what it was that prompted my memories of such smells, but it was so strong it seemed like just yesterday when I was out enjoying the carefree summer days with my Grandma Connie while my grandfather went off to the cattle sale not far down the road at Rimertown. I always enjoyed the fishing adventure better, but if I got to go along to see what the heifers were selling for (“They ain’t bringing nothing” was usually my grandfather’s take on the prices at the auction), my favorite part was the hot dog lunch at the little restaurant building just behind the main cattle barn.

I doubt I’ll ever enjoy a hot dog and cold drink more than that, though the taste of another ice cold drink I sampled for the first time as a teenager was maybe a close second. Nothing tastes quite the same as that first crackle of such a cold drink that I’ll just call Southern Comfort, which is what I would tell my mom we called Cheerwine if she asked. That wasn’t exactly what we were drinking ice cold, but if my mom is looking down from above and reading the columns I have in the Post, I don’t want her frowning on me for letting such a  thing touch my lips since she certainly wouldn’t approve.

After sampling any number of cold drinks since, I’ve come to the realization that nothing will compare to the first swallow and that taste is something that can’t be repeated, maybe like a first kiss. Come to think of it, I can remember the taste of that first cold drink more than I can remember a first kiss anyway. Wonder what that says about me?

I think it may be because all the other things I’ve tasted through the years have helped dull the senses. Maybe that just comes with age and is what prompts us to try new things just in case something else will jump out and match some of those early tastes that thrilled the senses.

July also has some sights — like Fourth of July fireworks— and sounds that are unique. Have you ever listened to the song of the July fly as my dad used to call cicadas?

It sings so loudly in the summertime it can make your teeth chatter, and is a harbinger of all things hot.

But back to that smell of fresh fish that prompted all this. It was nothing bad I can assure you. And nowhere near like the unpleasantness of walking inside and taking a sniff that let’s you know right away a dog has left something behind that’s not what you want to discover — and knowing it will have to be cleaned up promptly before the whole house smells worse than any leftover fish parts ever could.

Paris Goodnight is editor of the Salisbury Post.