Saturday, February 06, 2010

Weekend Assignment #305: Suddenly the Senses

On Thursday night, just as I was leaving work, I heard bagpipes again. That's the inspiration for this week's topic.

Weekend Assignment #305: You're going about your day and then you sense something - a sight, a sound, a smell, perhaps even a texture or a taste. Whatever it is, it evokes a treasured memory of the past. What did you see, hear, touch, smell, or taste, and what did it remind you of?

Extra Credit: Are there any sounds, sights or smells you actually seek out because of the pleasant associations?

There are a few of them for me. The bagpipes I mentioned earlier always remind me of Epcot Center in Florida, a place I've run into bagpipers several times at least.

More evocative and emotional for me is a particular arrangement of Sleigh Ride, the one that Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops recorded many years ago. It was on at least one, and I think two, of the Christmas records I grew up with. I heard a band play this exact arrangement at a local mall once, and found myself in sudden tears.The choral arrangements on my beloved "green record," We Wish You a Merry Christmas by the Robert Rheims Choraliers, Organ and Chimes have a similar effect. It's less pronounced, though, because nobody else ever, as far as I know, recorded those classic arrangements accompanied by chimes, much less performed them live in my hearing.

Dad and me on vacation but not fishing on a non-rainy day, 1971.

And there's another, weirder one, not music-oriented and not at all Christmassy. When I was growing up in Manlius, NY, it rained a lot, and the worms would crawl out of the ground to escape the soaked and muddy earth. The smell of rain on days like that was at least partly the smell of drowned worms. That odd, not really unpleasant aroma would bring with it a memory of sitting on a dock in New Hampshire or Cape Cod or, more likely, outside Henderson Harbor, NY, up on Lake Ontario. It was the smell of fishing with my parents and brother.

Marshall Gulch
Marshall Gulch on a damp day

Equally evocative is the smell of wet wood on a rainy, chilly day, a smell I can find up on Mount Lemmon sometimes, up at the top of the road among the tall pines. That smell reminds of sitting in a cabin in the Adirondacks, playing solitaire and waiting for the rain to stop. For some reason wherever we went, most of our family vacations involved day after day of rain. But that's okay, because I had a good time anyway.  And I've got these great memories of 40-odd years ago, waiting for a worm or a damp log to come along and evoke them.

As for seeking out sensual memories, I still love that old "green record," although these days it's a CD John ripped for me years ago from the out of print record. And I suppose it's part of why I love Marshall Gulch, the pine-filled picnic area above Summerhaven. It reminds me of the Adirondacks, and those long-ago, chilly-rainy vacations in northern New York State.


Last week I asked you folks whether you were okay with my partnering up with Carly of Ellipsis for future Weekend Assignments. Everybody thought it was a good idea, and Carly has graciously agreed to do it. Next Thursday night, look for Carly's first official Weekend Assignment as host, over on Ellipsis.

Meanwhile, let's take a look at the results of later week's Assignment. For Weekend Assignment #304: Frazzled! How Do You De-Stress?, I asked what you do to relieve the tension when you're feeling frazzled. Click on the names below to read the full responses:

Florinda said...
I don't have a single, all-purposes stress-relief technique - does anyone? But I do have several things I might try, depending on the context - where I am at the time, and what seems to be triggering the majority of the stress (because if I'm truly frazzled and overwhelmed, it's probably not just due to one thing). One of my stress relievers is actually productive, while others are more about avoidance....

Julie said...
Well, I have several options. One is my weekly bowling. That's my big stress-buster. The other is to take off and do something else - which I'm about to do right now.

Mike said...
Short answer; I don't. I suck at getting rid of stress. Really. Just ask Jenn. I bottle everything up then get all pissy about stupid stuff. Don't I sound like a fun person to live with?

I do somethings that help once in a while. I will play video games to try and feel better, but if I have trouble in the game I get irritated again. How does that help?

Carly said...
My favorite way to de-stress is pretty simple actually, I like to take pictures!

But then I also have to give some de-stressing credits to my kitties, Dylan and Hendrix. They keep me laughing. Pets are so healthy to have around. I know I am as sane as I am because I have these little people to help keep me happy.

As for this week's topic, I realize I'm probably going out on a limb with this one. Maybe you don't remember anything like this, at least not off the top of your heard. But please think about it. I want to read what you come up with!

I've posted a page about the Weekend Assignments using Blogger's new "Pages" feature. Click the link above this entry for a very brief history of the Weekend Assignment, logos you can save to post on your own blog, and guidelines on how to play along. Guidelines like these, in fact:

1. Please post your entry no later than Wednesday, February 10th at 9 PM Eastern. This first week it's a shorter time frame than usual, but it will all work out in the end. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better.)
2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry. Using the logo is encouraged but not mandatory.

3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.

4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!

5. We're always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 on if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."

6. I haven't run into any unpleasantness with this meme, ever, but just in case it ever happens, know that I reserve the right to remove rude or unpleasant comments (not to mention comment spam), and to leave entries off the linking list if the person has been majorly unpleasant, or fails to mention the Weekend Assignment in the entry.

That's it for now! Please remember to play along this week, and be sure to check Ellipsis next Thursday night for the next Weekend Assignment. And don't forget our two photo memes:

The Round Robin Photo Challenges - a new topic every two weeks


The Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot - hosted by Carly, with a new topic every Monday!

We hope to hear from you soon.



Carly said...

Hi Karen

Here's my entry...

barrettmanor said...

Good question. And I'm having trouble coming up with a good answer. Sometimes it's not one of the senses, but just a feeling - something I can't exactly quantify. And I have this feeling if I could I'd be a bestselling author. And I'm not, so that must tell you something! ;-)