Maybe it’s my imagination, but I feel like my senses are heightened here in Louisiana, and not only the basic five. It’s curious that, for some reason, folks here are exceptionally directionally tuned in. We always know, and it seems to be important to know, which way is which . . . north, south, east and west. It’s as if, when you live here for awhile, an internal compass develops. And this awareness quickly becomes instinctual. Maybe it’s simply because the city lies more or less on a grid, so it’s easy. Maybe we’re all more aware of the sun. Maybe it’s a need to know -- where is the coast and where is the country.
When I’m outside, on a walk or riding my bike, I take note of the wind direction, feeling it on my skin and looking at the leaves on trees for signs of flutter. Unlike in Pennsylvania, where one takes wind direction for granted – it’s always from the west – here it can come from any direction. Every day is different.
My other senses have blossomed, as well. When I lived in Pittsburgh, I wasn’t too keen about spicy food. I shied away from the little red peppers on the menus at Mexican and Asian restaurants. But after living in Louisiana for three years, I say bring it on. Tony Chachere’s, Tabasco, and jalapenos. The spicier the better. To a point.
The scents in Louisiana keep my nose twitching. There’s petroleum processing at plants along I-10, leaking septic tanks in my neighborhood, cow manure and road kill on my bike rides. Oh, never mind that. The jasmine and magnolia make up for it. A steaming pot of gumbo on a cool winter day. Satsumas fresh off the tree.
A colorful Louisiana sunset, the stillness of a bayou, a fallow field shrouded by morning fog, the rollick of a zydeco band, the braying of a herd of donkeys on a farm one mile behind my house, a bucket of boiled crawfish with corn on the cob and potatoes . . . I soak it all in like the soft sandy soil here drinks in the rain.
What are some of your own favorite sensory experiences, wherever you live?