Thursday, August 24, 2006

Simple Pleasures

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When I was kid, Saturday mornings -- or any summer morning --meant playing ball in the park, flying kites in the big open fields at the middle school down the block, or riding our bikes on the bmx track at the same middle school (bmx was hot for about a week in the mid-1970s). I associate those times with the smell of dew-damp grass.

As I started playing sports -- baseball, football, and soccer -- game day always smelled like freshly cut, damp grass. I loved that smell. It made me feel alive, energized.

Now that I live in the desert where no one has a lawn, and even the schools don't have a lot of grass, the only place to smell wet grass is at the golf courses or the cemeteries. I don't golf, so my only exposure to that scent of my childhood is when I drive by one of the cemeteries in town.

This morning, as I drove home from my early client, that old familiar scent caught my attention when I drove past the cemetery. I immediately felt nostalgic for fall sports when I was in high school and college -- for me that meant soccer. And then I flashed back to one morning when I was about six years old and I was flying a kite at the school -- feeling so . . . I don't even have words for it.

Somehow, in growing older, I have misplaced that simple joy of flying a kite and watching it dance in the wind.

I could explain all the neurophysiology of memory and scent, but that doesn't touch the mystery of how I feel when I smell wet grass. It's such a simple pleasure -- and a great way to start my day.

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