Walking through the parking lot this morning, I heard that distinctive rumble and I was reminded that nothing smells like a diesel engine. I'm sure there are probably lots of people around who think they're loud and stinky; I'm sure there are lots of people who associate diesel engines with pollution, interstate truck stops, and loading docks. But whenever I hear, and especially when I smell, a diesel engine, I'm immediately a teenager again.
When I was in high school, I spent my summers driving around in circles on a tractor. Many times, we'd leave the equipment in the field where we stopped working at night, and my boss would drop me off in the morning to start where I'd left off.
Now before we fired up the tractor, there was always preventative maintenance to take care of. The equipment had to be tended to, and it took a few minutes. During those few minutes there might have been a little dew on the grass. During those few minutes I sometimes heard birds or coyotes. During those few minutes, as I went about my tasks, I felt the serenity of anticipating hard work; and it was good.
Before long, I was done getting things ready. I'd look around, climb onto the tractor, and hesitate for a moment, recognizing that as soon as I started the engine, everything would change. The calm would be gone, and the work would be started. I would always hesitate, savoring that small moment before I'd begin again to spiral toward the center of the field.
This morning in the parking lot, I was back where diesel engines always take me. Not to the central Texas heat; not to the flies that swarmed down in the bottom where the breeze didn't move; not to the fire ants that you hoped you didn't park on when the equipment broke down. I was back for a moment in the calm, cool stillness of a summer morning in a half-cut hay pasture.