A sense of seasons

The crisp-apple air of autumn has begun blustering about. Tiny cold and warm fronts battle in eddies above my tea mug; on the window sill; at my upper lip. The invisible becomes tangible in this shifting season, and as the birds rang in the dawn an epiphany woke within me.

Autumn will forever be scented. The cool, dry air thins just enough to heighten everyday smells — of bonfires and char, of dampened leaves. More than that, there is a sudden awareness of scent. As the cooling atmosphere meets warm blasts from bakeries and kettles and trucks the different airs mingle. Their edges shine in the fading light. Transitory gusts sharpen my awareness of the moving, flowing, changing swells around me and the history carried in their tinctures.

Winter can only be characterized by sound. Or rather its absence. The muffle of snow and the softening of routine in the dark. Any surviving noise, however mundane in other seasons, is thrown into relief. The crunch of snow, the jangle of boisterous carols, the silence of an empty wood. Smell does not travel the same now and light is hard to come by, but the patter of life in the dark days reminds me I’m alive.

Spring, of course, heralds the return of sight. The incremental changes in the dawn, the steady, unmarked appearance of buds and melt-ravaged earth. Blink and you’d miss the first tiny shard of leaf, the swathe of snowdrops half-hidden in the shadows, but attuned to the daily creep of Spring, the world awakens to eyes willing to see.

Summer, fittingly bolshy and occasionally crass, lives to touch. The tangible pressure of hot sun on skin. Suddenly shoes and shirts and strangers on trains are physically close, tactile and ever-present. The brush of hair on your neck, the slick melt of butter running down corn on the cob. The presence of physical, material objects is overpowering and overwhelming as tender skin is exposed and the outdoors spread inside.


Synesthesia is the synaptic muddling of sensory input. Sometimes sounds are heard as textures, tastes have distinct hues (though not all synesthetes experience the same sensory conflations).

My writing tends toward the synesthetic. There are not words deft enough to describe flavor or illustrate emotion, and so mixed-metaphor reigns supreme in these pages to curb my unmet wont. If I cannot tell you or show you I resort to likening, creating a verisimilitude from disparate meanings.

Can you hear what I smell?

Do you see what I feel?

The crux of knowing is beyond language, beyond sense. But it matters. My goodness it matters.


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