Summer nostalgia

One of the biggest adjustments of moving from Los Angeles up to San Francisco has been the drastic climate change. In LA it was an apocalyptic outlier when it was cold or rainy; in San Francisco, a warm, sunny day like today is so rare it is like a spontaneous holiday.

Whenever warm weather returns after a long cold spell, I'm noticeably more cheerful. One of the most important reasons is that smell travels more readily on warm air. Through my bedroom window this morning I could smell a mixture of flowers, trees, grass, and just the slightest hint of ocean, and smell is so closely tied to memory that I'm immediately plunged into nostalgic reverie.

In the winter, I can't smell anything. The air is chilly, both literally and figuratively, and since it's chilly about ten and a half months out of twelve in San Francisco, my nose goes numb.

It's a mixed blessing depending on where you live, of course. Walking by a pile of trash on the sidewalk in NYC on a sweltering summer day is like a drive-by assault on the nose, and San Francisco has no shortage of unpleasantly familiar odors lurking on the wrong sidewalks.

Right at this moment, though, I can smell just a hit of wildflower through the window as I sit typing at my kitchen table and part of me is eight years old again, at a kitchen table in a townhouse in Palatine, waiting for my mother to bring me a tuna sandwich for lunch.