31 May 2006

sensory swoon

Somebody asked me tonight what my favorite painting is. I was both embarrassed and perturbed to find that have no idea.

Perhaps I am just not the kind of person who has a favorite painting. I do not know.

I like a lot of paintings; some of them are famous and in museums. Some of them are not. Some of them have given me goosebumps. But I don't remember ever thinking to myself, that is my absolutely favoritest one, unless and until something more amazing/moving/stunning crosses my path.

There is one painting that my father-in-law owns that I have tried several times to nudge him toward loaning me, that depicts a house as seen from the outside, in a violet-blue dusk, with one warm yellow window in the rear of the house aglow from the inside. I enjoy this painting a great deal. But then, I enjoy seeing those tiny glimpses you sometimes get, passing in a car, inside other people's houses at night. This painting reminds me of this. It also makes me smell woodsmoke, and wool.

I am just not all that visually oriented. I fixate on favorite smells and textures more than on images. Like lately, for instance. This spring that has been so fervently watered by the rains of May. That smell! Of new leaves and newer flowers! It just makes my head spin. And then you add the fog that creeps in every evening around sunset, and a faint breeze from the sea, and it is almost too unbearably delicious to breathe.

It makes me want to wander the streets all night, gulping in the seawater-saturated air and suspended fog molecules, all laced with freshly opened rhododendrons, newly laid cedar mulch, and fading lilac blossoms.

The smell of my cat's fur after lying in the sun all day.

Woodsmoke from an unidentified chimney.

Someone else's bath towel, still bearing the scent of soap and warm, wet skin.

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