The acrid, sticky smell of new blacktop is drifting i through the front room windows, which is a very summer smell. Several things from childhood summers relate to tar, and as we all know, scent is the most direct instigator in the resurfacing of memories.

One of these things was a general, all-summer kind of occurrence, involving old men sprinkling of tar from a metal watering can over the dirt roads in the area where my family had a cottage on a small lake. The roads would otherwise get exceedingly dusty in the dry days of sun; tar was a way of minimizing the great choking clouds of dust.

The other was a singular incident which took place in Niagara Falls (where my family would go once every summer for a day trip, generally leaving from the same cottage, as we spent the whole of each summer there for years). Walking along a sidewalk on the Canadian side, past some construction going on up above, my brother suddenly yelled, “Hot tar!”. Several gobs had landed on both he and I, though I didn’t feel it as hot, as it had only fallen on my sweater, which was unhappily ruined. It is still an anecdote that comes up from time to time, as my brother’s outburst had initially sounded like gibberish, and my parents had no idea what he was yelling about!

This past Saturday, Ben and I went up to the River house of his sister again. We tubed along its length in the mid afternoon, and it was delightful, relaxing. This time I did remember to bring my camera upstate (though I wish I could have brought it on our trip downriver). Here’s one of the river…

(More photos are at the flickr page, link in the column at top right…)


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