Follow Your Nose through Fall
by Bo Sinnlich
Remember when you were a kid, and from the time you fell out of bed to the time you fell back in, you flowed from one thing to the next with no plan for the day or schedule? You followed your nose from one thing to the next. A recent day like that reminded me how wonderful it can be.
I had planned to go to an art gallery in Annapolis to see still-life oil paintings by an artist I love, but on awakening I felt ready for a different kind of day, a meandering day. So I decided to follow my nose, perhaps finding some things to make my own still-lifes.
Off I went, windows down to the intoxicating fall scents, treasure-hunting. Sniffing something exciting on the breeze, I was drawn to Dick and Janes on Route 2. Up and down rows of squash and gourds and pumpkins and apples of every size, shape and color, I wandered for about an hour, heaping my pile of goods higher and higher. A deep green gourd looked like a dragon, stem curling out as the tongue. Another combined a tuba and a swan, all curves and roundness. This one, I was told, made the best pumpkin pie ever. Other tiny creatures were speckled and blotched and striped with oranges and greens and golds. There were even golf-ball-sized white pumpkins. Here was nature at her most frivolous.
Next I went to Homestead Gardens and found even more gourds and squash-things and a piece of corn seemingly made of rows of cabochon rubies and onyx. As I drifted among rows of bronze mums and purple pansies and brilliant orange pumpkins, I kept getting whiffs of hamburgers grilling and could see smoke puffs over by the checkout. My nose led me faithfully, and my drive home was enriched by a fried-onion-oozing, catsup-dripping burger.
The sky was gorgeous, all gold-drenched light and puff-clouds against cerulean blue. The Dr. Seuss incandescent silver tufts on top of sea grasses swayed to the Celtic music on the radio. Golden leaves rained down in harmony.
At home I treasure-hunted a bit more, walking down to the marsh. My face was chilled and breathing was like drinking cold water when thirsty.
Its amazing how perspective changes the things you see every day. When things become still-life subjects, the details leap out at you: all the shapes and colors and textures. Brown jagged starbursts of hibiscus pods, seeds spilling out. A maze of fuchsia vine studded with purple berries. I tucked more treasures into my backpack and walked briskly home, feeling about eight years old, only needing a frog in my pocket to make the day complete.
With all my treasures laid out, I made my still-lifes. The dragon gourds were magic against the green-gold lamé. Cranberries rolled across black and cobalt-blue velvet. The only interruption in hours of immersion in color and texture was when my cat Tiger hurled himself into one, making it not so still.
Reluctant to stop but hearing the sunset call come see me, I went out into the evening chill. Mounds of curded clouds tinted rose and apricot and grape-blue heaped as far as my eye could see. After darkness fell, they sailed upon the black sky, highlighted by the moon, galleons after their own treasure, I imagined.
I know I felt rich from a day of drifting in such beauty. Perhaps they did, too.
Sinnlich, who labors in Washington under another name, reflects from North Beach.