On a road trip with my parents once, we stopped in Vegas for a rest. At one point, I turned to look at my dad and he was sniffing around like a hound on the hunt. When I asked what he was onto, he said, “Nothing. I’m just trying to use my sense of smell more.” I laughed at how ridiculous he looked, but I understood exactly what he meant: there’s so much going on in the world (particularly in a place like Vegas) that we tend to tune out more than we take in.
The world is probably too intense for us to be aware of everything around us at every minute, but it is nice to take a moment sometimes to purposefully experience one sensation and see just how much there is going on in that tiny world. I think of that chat with my dad frequently, and often when I am on a walk or just sitting back and watching things happen I’ll pick one sense and check out what it is experiencing at that moment. It’s a fun game to play with other people too. Chris and I have done it a couple of times when we’ve been at places we want to remember, and I can recall those scenes so well because we took some time to really experience the full picture.
This past Sunday we went for a nice walk through the countryside in Redbourn, and I played with this idea along the way. I paid attention to the sun warming my face and shoulders while autumn breezes chilled the parts of me in shadow. The soft clumps of freshly tilled earth rolling away underfoot as we cut through open fields. The sound of water slowly dripping from the edges of a mill-wheel. The smell of horses. The sound of their hooves padding down the grass. The scratchy, coarse hair I felt when I scratched one behind his ear, and the warm, soft skin of his snout when he pushed his mouth into my hand, hoping for food.
With autumn fully under way, the visual sensations alone would have been plenty to keep me occupied. I found myself zooming out to take in the whole scene (bright blue skies filled with perfectly fluffy clouds over dark brown fields dotted with the fresh growth of opportunistic grass) and zooming in to see the smallest details (bright green bugs being betrayed by their normally perfect camouflage as the leaves change colour beneath them).
It was a great day out that ended the way every countryside walk should: in a pub with a decadent roast, a fat pint of cider and a postcard to write.
After I stuffed myself to the point of agony/ecstasy at the pub, I had the happy experience of writing my first postcard to a stranger! I have been wanting to write to strangers for years, but never had anyone send a request. So for my new friend (and her border collie) in Indiana, I want to thank you for making my day! PS If there is gravy on your card, you’ll know why.
Want a postcard? Send me your details here and I will send you one too!