How many of us have read Fox In Socks to our kids? It is one of Dr. Seuss’ fun tongue twisters that I spent many a night reading to my son and daughter. I read most of the Dr. Seuss books when I was a young boy and always enjoyed them. I enjoy them just as much as an adult, albeit on a different intellectual level I think.
Ever since we started reading Fox In Socks to the kids we have always responded to a crow’s caw with “Hey Slow Joe, how are you doing today!” It is a particular pleasure of mine that always brings a warmth and peace to my soul.
We all have those little triggers that prompt feelings and emotions and take us back to other times of our lives. Smells and sounds for me more so than sights I think, which might seem somewhat at odds with me being such a visual artist. I think those sensory inputs help to heighten my awareness of my surroundings and inform my art on some level that I can’t seem to be able to verbalize very well. When I’m out walking the fields with my camera looking for images I am alert to the sounds and smells too. They just seem to help put me ‘in the Zone.’
It’s funny, but the smell of a skunk is always a welcome one for me. It transports me instantly back to many times in my childhood. My Dad had no sense of smell, but he knew from everyone’s gasps and wrinkled noses that ‘skunk’ was a particularly unpleasant experience and he would always smile and say “a striped kitty, huh.” I still hear him saying that every time I smell one and I like that. Certainly an off-putting odor for most, but I never minded it then or now and always welcome the experience. Knowing what a wonderful experience the sense of smell is for me I always felt a bit of sorrow that it was denied to Dad, but I hope he had other heightened senses that made up for it.
Speaking of smell, have you ever heard the term ‘petrichor’? It is defined as “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.” Living in the Southwest for so much of my life I have experienced it often and looked forward to those times that I was greeted with it. For the longest time I never knew that it actually had a name associated with it.
The term was coined by two Australian researchers in 1964. It is constructed from the Greek word petra meaning “stone”, and ichor referring to the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology. The smell derives from an oil that is produced by certain plants during dry periods and absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. During, and just preceding, rain it is released into the air thus producing that wonderful scent. So there’s a little word lesson for the day.
Anyway, pay heed to the sensory stimulation that surrounds your daily life and find ways to make use of the variety of triggers that they can provide you with. They may be simple pleasures or maybe they can help inform your art or anything else in life.