Friday, April 30, 2010

The Scent of Summer Past

Once upon a time I lived in the Black Hills of South Dakota in a little trailer in the alley behind Professor Straum’s Old Time Portrait Studio, where I worked while on delayed entry into the Air Force. It was a lonely/happy time. That is a strange combo platter, to be sure, but it really best describes the way it was for me.
Truly on my own for the first time, I learned how to find pleasure in the simple things .... find new friends, find new contentedness in myself and the air around me.
I loved that time in my life.
The Black Hills are an absolutely gorgeous place to find one’s self. Even on a tight “photographer’s” budget! During the week I dined on instant rice and enjoyed a little splash in the sink we used in the darkroom in lieu of a real bath.
For fun we held up the stagecoach a couple of times a day with the prop weapons we shared with the studio across the street (the “competition” was owned by the same person!) We took strolls on the boardwalk and hiked into the woods. We swam in a hot spring the local boys found and we dined on the kindness of travelers from time to time.
We dangled our feet in the stream while panning for gold and marveled at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. We told stories and shared laughter with strangers.
We wandered through caves and danced in the streets at night while drinking the cheapest beer we could buy and listening to mixed tapes of Missing Persons, INXS, U2, etc.
Once a week, I would splurge and pay 25 cents for a real shower at the campground and enjoy a bag of popcorn out of the machine.
I would climb to the highest peak and let the sun warm my face and the breeze rustle my hair. And I would dream the day away .....
The air is different there.
It was a sweet, simple time and I will never forget that summer ......

Every day I ride the Yellow Line to work. And every day I forget those memories of a warm South Dakota summer 26 years ago.
But each time I get off the train at Huntington Station, for a split second, I smell the forest of yesteryear. The Black Hills. Every day I forget and every day I am reminded again as if for the first time.
Each and every day I am treated with a pleasant memory hidden away in the back of my mind caught forever in the sweet scent of the air at a train station in Alexandria Virginia.
Life is funny like that.

1 comment:

Carol said...

great memory Bec! you described it well for those who have experienced the beauty of the Black Hills.