Get Out – All of Our Senses

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Cattails glisten in the frost.

Cattails glisten in the frost.

After what seemed like a summer that would never end, we have had fall colour as good as ever.

And now the trees are almost bare and the first flakes of snow have fallen. Oh how I love the changing seasons!

I find this season especially awakens my senses. And so for this column let me enumerate some of the things “get-outers” can experience with their five senses.

Sight: the blaze of colour that was ours this fall is now gone, but there’s still lots to see. Upstream of the millpond is a large wetland. The expanse of cattails here is impressive. The wind as it passes over them causes them to dance and the light glancing off the waxy leaf covering of the moving stems causes a sort of sparkling effect. It is magical and uplifting.

Taste: this is always a hard one for outside (I hardly recommend kneeling down and licking something! And the season for wild fruit is over) but what about the first snowflakes caught on your tongue? Is there a taste? Don’t let kids have all the fun! Come on and stick out your tongue to “see”.

Touch or, more significantly, feeling: the tip of your nose chilled by the first wintry winds. The other day on one of our first really cool days I was struck by what a “happy” feeling it was to feel my nose cold. It is not a happy feeling to have cold hands or cold feet; but somehow if it’s just the nose I feel more alive!

Smell: the “brown sugar” smell of the fallen maple leaves. This smell of the leaves can be quite intense at times. Now, forgive me if you are unfortunate enough not to have a sense of smell. But I find smell to be a powerful sense that brings so much extra to my time spent out-of-doors. The fall abounds in subtle, alluring smells. Let your nose add to your other senses.

Hearing: the crunching, wispy, dry sound as you kick your way through the fallen leaves. I’ve already alluded to the fact that many of the sensations I have at this time of year remind me of childhood. And this is definitely another. Can there be anything happier or more care-free than the sheer enjoyment of kicking through a pile of leaves? It’s more than the sound–but the sound is very important here.

We often hear or read about a sixth sense. It probably does exist but we “Western” people seem to have sadly neglected it. But sometimes I wonder if something like a sixth sense is alive within me. And that would be the Five Senses awakening in me memories from diverse places at diverse times in my past. This comes out of the blue and I am “transported!” Or maybe it’s as simple as what I experienced this morning. It was a “soft” morning with a very gentle rain falling and no wind. Something sparked in me a genuine feeling of peace. My body responded with the muscles of my shoulders relaxing. And then, as if the cake needed any more icing, I saw on the pond an otter pop up eating a fish!

The world around us is rich with things to see, taste, touch, smell and hear–and something else hard to define. Get out and enjoy with all your senses.

By Glen Spurrell

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