A Solar Eclipse and a Nasty Cold

Summer is coming to an end, and I haven’t touched this blog since May.  It wasn’t intentional. I was pulled away by baseball games, concerts, fests, shelter dogs, and family.

Oh, and there was that little bit of “real” writing I needed to make time for.  Those pesky books won’t write themselves.  I completed a short story in July that will be part of a Christmas Anthology published this December, and my coming-of-age novel, A Penny on the Tracks, is slated for an October release.

So, the coming months give me something to look forward to, besides the fact that we are heading into my favorite season. I absolutely love the fall. Even though it would be so tempting to move to a mild climate that sees no below-zero weather, and sports clear blue skies most of the time, I can’t live without experiencing the shift to the season of falling leaves.

Fall is crisp autumn leaves, apple cider, early sunsets that bring out the ‘cozy’ in me, Halloween, scary movies, sour apple and caramel suckers, pumpkins, Thanksgiving (minus the turkey, please), and hoodies with long shorts (because that’s the way I roll).

I had meant to close out the summer with a total solar eclipse, but a nasty and stubborn cold kept me from making the hundred-plus miles to Carbondale, Il. I had a motel booked in Troy, the closest city I could get to that suddenly popular college town in southern Illinois.

My solar eclipse glasses and a guide to all I needed to know about a total solar eclipse sat waiting to be packed. My tank was full. Supplies were bought, including pepper spray because a woman traveling alone should never be too careful. I had cash in my pocket and water bottles chilling in the refrigerator.

What I didn’t have was a capable body. The trip was not meant to be, and I was stuck at home with a stuffy nose and a throbbing throat, watching a solar eclipse on a cloudy day.

Awesome.

I watched the Carbondale coverage on my TV without being too bitter. Good for those people who witnessed such a spectacular sight. I have 2024 to look forward to, right?

There was one silver lining in getting sick though. I now appreciate so much the ability to taste and smell. Being without those two senses for even two days took so much away from me. I’ve had colds before that limited my senses, but I never before considered what if this were permanent? No matter what I ate or drank, I couldn’t taste a thing. Every food was the same, just different texture. I can’t imagine living in such blandness.

I thought of the the former INXS singer, Michael Hutchence, who had lost his sense of smell and taste during an altercation with a cab driver that left Hutchence with a brain injury, triggering his senses loss. Hutchence would die five years later of what was reported to be a suicide. The people who knew him best said he changed after the accident. Not being able to taste or smell anything had changed him.

Hutchence was described as a sensual man who loved wine and fine dining and women. I can only imagine the depression that settles in when you can no longer taste or smell that which you love, and that which brings you the most satisfaction in your life.

There is definitely a level of intimacy that you lose with the world around you when you can no longer taste or smell anything it offers.

I don’t know how I would cope walking outside on a fall night and not being able to smell the leaves scattered all around, or the musky air filled with that raw earthy scent I love so much.  I’m grateful I can smell Fall, my favorite season.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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The Little Things…

Today was the epitome of what a spring day should be, and it was about time because only a few short weeks ago there was snow on the ground. But this morning, as I walked my dog underneath the warm sunshine, I watched birds flap their wings boldly as they flew in the sky, and listened to them chirp their soothing sounds. I love listening to birds sing. For me, the sound is the first proof that winter is finally coming to an end and the days will soon be getting longer. 

I took a moment to appreciate that not only was I physically well enough to take my dog for a walk outside, but also, that I was able to hear and see all the beauties of the day. Ever since I had read an article written by a young man who had lost his sense of taste after suffering a nasty cold, I have imagined what living would be like without other senses. 

When people are asked about our five senses, the ones that people probably consider the most are hearing and seeing. I remember as a child watching a blind woman in my grandmother’s neighborhood walking by herself, up and down the streets, with only a stick to guide her. I was amazed and when I asked me grandma about it, she very causally responded that the woman walks by herself outside all the time. Everywhere.

I have been in public places where I’ve watched hearing impaired people communicate through sign language, and of course, before most any TV show or sporting broadcast, a voice instructs the audience of the option available to select for the hearing impaired.

Also, I’ve seen many movies and TV shows that have included characters who are either deaf or blind, so I have many times considered what it would be like to be deaf or blind. Yet, I don’t remember ever contemplating how life would be if I lost my sense of taste, but since reading that article, I think about that possibility all the time.

Losing one’s sense of taste may not seem so life-changing as compared to the thought of losing one’s sight or hearing, and that may be true. But food is a big part of people’s lives. Not only is it needed to stay alive, but people often feel an identity by the food they eat as being part of their culture.

The man in the article described eating with no sense of taste as being the same as chewing a piece of gum that has lost its flavor.  Basically, when the gum starts to taste like rubber. This is how this man’s food now tastes to him–all the time. Like rubber.  There is no getting a fresh piece of gum for him any longer. Everything he puts in his mouth has the same bland, dull taste.

The food he eats will no longer satisfy any craving he may have. His taste buds have deceived him. About a month ago, I was watching a movie about the Australian band, INXS. I learned that lead singer, Michael Hutchence, had lost not only his sense of taste, but his sense of smell, as well, after a confrontation with a cab driver that left Hutchence on the ground with a banged up head. Hutchence would take his own life years later.

As I walked my dog this morning, I took a moment to appreciate the ability to take in the scene in every way possible. I could see the gorgeous blue sky with its white fluffy scattered clouds. I heard the birds sing, as well as the roar of lawnmowers, and smelled the earthy scent of freshly cut grass. All of this combined, helped to bring out the true beauty of that day.

I may never realize the feeling of flying in my own private jet, or  having more money than I know what to do with, but today I am grateful to have all of my senses.

Sometimes, it truly are the little things that matter in life.