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I like walking on the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
As I walk, air along the gulf coast has a certain freshness that vitalizes the soul. The salt and a bit of fish or other marine life seem to permeate the sense of smell.
I think about how smell and taste influence each other. The sommelier smells the wine first, then tastes – and smell influences taste – then the sommelier may smell again, followed by another sip to taste, and then even repeating this cycle of experiencing enhancement.
I think about the times when the aromas of a food feast greet me when walking into the house from the outside. I think about smells that we recognize, smells that trigger memories, and smells that make our mouths water in anticipation.
I think of the smells many of us recognize – burning leaves of autumn – grilling steaks – newly cut grass – freshness of a flower.
I think about a chemistry teacher teaching students to wave one hand over a beaker or test tube toward our nose to catch a scent – especially wonderful esters that are part of the flavor industry.
I think of products with distinct smells – whether roses, leather goods, pungent ammonia, or many more in nature and as manufactured products.
I think about how smell and taste are two senses working in tandem to enhance the other. We have many more specialized sensors detecting smell than taste – yet the wine sommelier uses both to develop descriptors for that wonderful fruit of the vine.
I think about pheromones – the chemicals that living things release outside the body for attracting a mate, defense, marking territory, alarm, and more. Although we humans also have natural pheromones, sometimes we chose to add a scent of our choice.
I think about the quivering noses of dogs and cats as they examine the rich, scent-ladened world with their smell detection system that is much more sensitive than humans.
I think about how smell is like music – simply evocative tones of our surroundings. I think about the smell of a lover’s skin, the warm aroma of baking bread, the freshness after a spring rain, the roasted scent of brewing coffee that enhances the start of the day, and much more.
However, human taste is so simple that it works in tandem with our sense of smell to expand our experience.
I think about how smells are personal. Not only can a smell trigger memories, each of us can smell something different from the same object as each of our brains interpret those smells differently. Each of us may associate a smell with a different event in our past – some pleasant, others not so.
Yet, we have something in common. Our smell sensors are in the same location. After detection, the sensory impulses travel to the same part of the brain, which interprets that smell for our analysis yet, we may perceive the smell differently in our individualized analysis. However, discovering that each side of our nose detects different smells surprised me.
I think about those who cannot smell. What a world they are missing. Yes, they are fortunate to miss the bad and unpleasant – but smell’s absence is a misfortune when encountering a rose, the essence of spice, the sensuality of freshly-cleaned skin, and more. On the other hand, how does one describe smells to someone who can’t smell?
Whether temporary or permanent, I think about those who unexpectedly lost their sense of smell due to COVID.
We can walk in the same air, but the smell is personal. Each of us may detect something different or interpret the same smell differently.
I enjoy smelling the sea air when I walk because they also carry the fresh scents of freedom, happiness, and relaxation. Yes, the smell of the beach’s air is a specialized and potent personal elixir. After all, I like walking on the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have written about smell
- Why does coffee smell so good? (essay)
- The smell of apples (essay)
- In praise of smell (poem)
- That human scent (poem)
- Olfactory alerts (essay and poem)
- Olfactory & gustatory experiences, better understood (essay)
Next Post: Taste – Thursday 8 April @ 1 AM (Eastern US)
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