Shortly after turning onto that last road the farms began and the smell would hit us. My sisters, selfishly I thought, would insist on windows rolled up. My brother and I would just inhale with excitement. It was such a foreign smell and it was rich and all-pervasive. There really was no escape, even with the windows safely up. It had a bottom and a top register, like the noise of a musical instrument, but it varied depending on proximity. At first it was simply there; spreading from the droppings baking in the sun like so many cookies in a cheery oven. But as each barn drew nearer the smell became sharp--penetrating the back of the nose and the eyes with a satisfying sharpness that quickly faded as the car moved on toward the next farm. My father, like some maddened musician, sped up as the miles passed so that the smell built and declined with increasing speed--on and off like rapid notes in a jazz solo.
Then, about a mile from the lake, the smell was gone. Hot grass and trees and Queen Anne's Lace and the growing smell of water took over. We really were there and throughout the month, if we were mercilessly dragged away like lit