Vignettes of the Five Senses

I am careful to remember all five senses when journaling an event. Included in this post are three of my favorite vignettes.

Scene One

One very cold morning in Munich, Germany, I got up very early to go to market. For years I had dreamed of shopping in a European open air market and here I was in Viktualienmarkt, a market built in 1807!  Not even the cold misty rain hitting my face could deter me from walking several blocks.

Over a hundred stalls were filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, sausages, pastries and flowers. Oh, the flowers! Bundles of them wrapped in tissue paper. I knew I couldn’t take them across the border on our road trip, but I didn’t care. To have the memory of buying flowers in this market was important to me. I kept the bright bouquet of pink roses close so I could remember the sweet fragrance.

I could not understand one word of German spoken around me! But the vendors’ many smiles added to the early morning delight.

I have no memory of the name of the sweet bakery item I chose. They all looked like they would be scrumptious. As I walked back to the hotel, carrying my bouquet and nibbling on my Bavarian cream pastry, I knew this was a forever memory!

Scene Two

When our children were little we often met their grandparents for excursions at the Western Washington State Fair. No photographs could adequately record the memories to our senses. Here are a few of our favorites.

  •          Sights:  The lights on the rides at night, 4-H animal judging, displays of flowers, vegetables and quilts, the firework display at the end of the night.
  •          Smells:  Grilled onions, whole chickens on the barbecue spits, carmel pop corn, frosted funnel cakes.
  •          Tastes:   Grilled onions, whole chickens on the barbecue spits, carmel pop corn, frosted funnel cakes.  Oops…this list is this same as above!
  •          Sounds:   Children screaming with excitement, children screaming with exhaustion, barkers calling us to see their wears, the rodeo announcer.
  •          Touch:    Petting zoo farm animals (the baby goats were my favorite!),  the cool grass beneath us when we picnicked on the lawn. By the end of the night, I could not feel my numb feet!

One year I worked at the fairgrounds. I made carmel corn 8 hours a day for 21 days straight. Two smells are permanently etched in my sensory memory. One week when the temperature stayed in the 90’s, I was assigned to the booth at the horse barn. The smells of carmel corn and horse manure are bad…really bad! So I prefer to remember all the pleasant sensory fair experiences I listed above.

Scene Three

Our daughter had just moved to graduate school in Pasadena, California. She lived two blocks from the historic Route 66, also the route for the Rose Bowl Parade. Miriam had a full schedule of meetings and I had a roomful of furniture to assemble.  After awhile I felt as though the drips of perspiration fell in time with the rhythms of my hammer swings!

I stepped outside to find a breeze because there was no air-conditioning in the apartment. Ahhh, it was a cooler 88 degrees outside! Oops! I couldn’t lean on the iron railing…too hot to handle. So I just leaned against the wall and enjoyed my icy cold diet coke. Just the sight of the tropical flowers brought back a wave of nostalgia for my childhood home in south Florida.

The Vietnamese family in the next apartment had started to cook and the smells were amazing. I so much wanted to invite myself for dinner! Below me in the courtyard, a Korean prayer group was meeting. Several doors away, I could hear an Ethiopian fellowship. This was an incredible experience I will remember always.

 

What scenes do you remember that have touched all your senses?

 

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4 Responses to Vignettes of the Five Senses

  1. Oh what wonderful memories Ruth – and I see your point about how rich they become in the telling when you include all the senses. This seems like a great personal reminder for me, so I’m going to start paying closer attention. Because the truth is I very often tend to experience with one sense being the very clearly dominant lens of my awareness. You’ve definitely given me something to think about – thanks!

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  2. Sights: I love watching the hummingbirds at the feeders all spring through fall. In the fall they go crazy and we get get buzzed by them…really, we duck our heads.

    Smells: Grilling steaks, burgers, pork chicken and potatoes are my favorites. I can smell them, even without the grill going right now. Yummy!

    Tastes: I can still taste the pizza we had for dinner. Tomato, spices, sausage and pepperoni are still tantalizing my taste buds.

    Sounds: There are a lot of birds here right now. Today, I have heard the little wren, orioles, hummingbird, tree swallows, gold finches, house finches, least flycatcher and of course a hummingbird.

    Touch: This is the first time today that I have touched the keyboard on my laptop. It feels so different from my iphone and my tablet. My fingers flow so much nicer on a keyboard where the keys are slightly curved. Now I have to go outside and see if I can find a few plants to dig up for our plant sale on Saturday. I can’t wait to feel the dirt!

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  3. Ruth I enjoyed very much reading your post. For me what popped out was the sights and what you described. It reminded me of the days where I used to make crafts and bake goods to enter at the local fairs. I still very much remember what those fairs were like, the sights, sounds, smells… all so much fun… I loved winning. 🙂

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