Sherwood Plaza parking lot, yesterday
If my little cove in Maine were a layer cake, the top layer would be the ocean itself, the gray-blue north Atlantic.
The next layer would be the massive rocks that protruded into the water, smooth edged by the waves. They were submerged during high tide but as the water receded, they were left with mussels clinging to their sides and tidepools all over their tops. This layer was my favorite playground.
The next layer would be the course grains of sand, pebbles and shells, little yellow ones and slightly larger brown ones that were common but beautiful to my eye nonetheless. If you dug down in this layer, you could find clams. Beach glass and beach china proliferated this layer, a treasure trove of I Spy.
The final layer would be the gradually sloping seawall, which curved gently around my cove, protecting the road above from the ocean below, though as a child I assumed it was the other way round. Rivulets of tar from the road seeped along the edge of the seawall. When it was Maine-hot, I never felt it because it was certainly not hot by DC standards, but I'd know it by the aroma of tar and then I'd poke at these puffy rivulets and feel them squish slightly, confirming the weather.
And so the smell of tar is forever linked in my mind to my little cove, which is why I do not mind it in the slightest and in fact inhale deeply and smile.