All the Senses


My new home is an unending sensory experience.


That line of hills, the colors of the flowers, the graceful lines of the house. We have moved into something that someone else has built, cultivated, planted. It is the very definition of grace, to live among work we have not done with our own hands.


The wood smell in our bedroom. Making candles, cooking food. Coffee in the morning. The flowering tree opening its scent at night. Jasmine. Wafts of pig smell, all day, from the neighboring field. The septic tanks that don’t work properly for some reason. Incense. Dogs. The smell of rain. One after the other, breezes bring smells, one pleasant, the next one unpleasant. A meditation on transience.


I harvested eggplant from the garden and made a Keralan curry. Long beans. Mangoes and coffee in the morning, green tea with honey. Instant noodles. Rice. Pasta and black beans and tomatoes and salsa.


Birds all day long, from the earliest light, to the end of the day. Roosters. Frogs, cicadas, and crickets. Owls. The whine of mosquitoes. The trucks that go by, playing music from their loudspeakers, selling ladders and brooms, or awnings, or fruit. Motorbikes. Announcements from the nearby temple. The chanting of monks during the funeral over the last few days. A boy rides up to the gate on a bicycle and asks if we can play ball. Kids running and jumping, laughing and yelling. Piano and trumpet, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, singing, rapping, beatboxing, tapping on tables, boxes, and chairs.


Sweat on the upper lip. Dirt on my hands and under my fingernails. Flies everywhere, landing on our skin. Spiders. June bugs dashing themselves against our faces. A wind picking up just before the rain. Mosquitoes biting. Red ants biting. Humid air. More gentle breeze. Sweaty kids coming for a quick hug. Kisses. Dogs coming close to be pet or scratched. Fans whirring. Heat building. Dough under my hands as I bake bread. Rain on the face, soaking driving home on the chariot in the night.