Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, Smell


Hey, folks – it’s the last day of February, thank goodness … this time of year I get seized by inertia, and then annoyed at myself for spending my waking hours as if I were doing everything while submerged in glue up to my waist.  Musette called it “snakes in the refrigerator” and that’s also apt.  Hibernation.  So, I set myself a writing prompt of the five senses…

Sight: It’s been windy and cold, so sometimes my walks are just a slow mosey around the neighborhood with Coco, both of us bundled up, plus longer solo walks if it’s not bitter cold, which it has been more than I’d like.  This is the least attractive season here, everything’s dead brown with occasional snow.  But I try to take in my surroundings on my walk, notice the details – there’s always something to notice.  I love the sight of the ristras (dried chili pods) for sale near our library downtown, a frequent destination, and the clarity of our blue, blue sky, even in winter.  Given how cold it’s been, I was shocked to see this lone daffodil, up in the front garden – about two months earlier than I’d have guessed!  It’s a completely walled garden; having your entire yard behind a stucco wall that abuts the sidewalk is not uncommon here.  Anyway, I figure the protective walls and their ambient solar heat create a little microclimate.  I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes up in my first year at the casita.  It’s still very much winter – right now with the wind chill it’s 23F – but that cheerful yellow flower gives me hope.

Sound: the soft hum of my cool mist humidifier.  The wind outside.  The odd ping of the hot-water baseboard heat, which is different than the familiar deep-toned knocking of my old East Coast iron radiators; these make more of a tapping sound, but man am I grateful it’s not forced air, it’s dry enough in here already.  Music on, most of my waking hours – the local classical station, or curated playlists via my phone sent to my speakers.  This is also new; I had years of the noise of family in the background, some more annoying than others, and stretches where I desperately wanted silence.  Now that I’ve got it, I fill it with music.

Ristras for sale, off the Plaza.

Touch: the comfort of a ridiculously heavy alpaca blanket, and a thick German cotton flannel blanket underneath, over flannel sheets. I love the weight of heavy blankets in winter, squashing me. Coco, often right at my fingertips on the sofa or in bed, her soft warmth.  The pages of a book in my hand – I realized this winter that I’d much rather have a physical book than my Kindle or an eBook from the library, although I’ll take them if that’s all I can get.  I spend much of the day reading, most of it fluff/trash not worth naming; I’m also reading the delightful Mapp and Lucia (I’d lost mine somehow, thanks for the reminder, Tom!) and Deborah Madison’s What We Eat When We Eat Alone which Musette sent me, it’s full of whimsical stories about the sorts of things people eat when they’re feeding nobody but themselves.  I had to laugh; I’m in no position to judge, but it’s no wonder that some people keep their heinous snack ideas a secret.

Requisite cool, old truck on the Plaza.

Taste: lots of wickedly hot and spicy stew over here, which I make and then eat until it’s gone.  In contrast, my comfort food recently (featured in the eating-alone book, unsurprisingly) has been polenta, entire bowls of it — I make quick-cook from a box with milk, salt and butter, all of the joy and none of the thirty minutes of stirring.  I finally realized it reminds me of cream of wheat, the comfort food of my earliest childhood, which my mother made if I was sick or sad, along with soft-boiled eggs on toast, another childhood comfort food I still turn to.

Smell: it’s probably seasonal allergies but my vial of patchouli was back to smelling like dirt, although it’s better today, so: patience.  In the meantime, March is coming in like a lamb – it might briefly hit 60F later this week, the first time in months.  Fingers crossed.

What are some of your senses telling you right now?  Do you have any snack-treat ideas that embarrass you?  Do tell!  Remember, I’m the person eating bowls of cornmeal for dinner.  My kids (and lots of other folks) think soft-cooked eggs are disgusting, as well as polenta. More for me, I guess.


  • Ariel says:

    There’s a lot of recent home improvement in my dense neighborhood, and the combination of humidity, rain, and warmth means I smell wood everywhere I walk. Cedar, white oak, and red oak….I’m excited to smell the combination with the just-now-budding star jasmine.

    My favorite taste lately is genmaicha, though now I’m craving polenta and soft eggs – thanks for reminding me! Will add some braised kale with lemon just to make it extra interesting.

    Touch: my sensory system is extra flared up, and I’m finding my cats more soothing than usual. Yay for the purr vibration!

    hearing: rain. rain rain. My kitchen is actually crumbling from water damage, but since that would have to get fixed anyway, I don’t mind the deluge of rain. It sounds like safety and hot baths and blooming.

    sight: my husband, making food and furniture and petting the kitties. He’s so gentle, so unhurried, so accepting of chaos. Makes me feel like my little corner of the world is ok.

    • March says:

      Ooooh, all that woodsy smell sounds lovely! And the rain sounds … it rains so seldom here, I suspect I’m going to miss that sound eventually, as much as I resented it on occasion in rainy spring back east. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • SpringPansy says:

    I grew up in a small town on an orchard and we had an old (53? or so?) red Chevy pick-up for farm errands that I loved. I can just see it now parked under the cherry trees.

    I love doing the five sense self quiz when I’m out walking so that I stay mindful as I walk outdoors.

    Favorite slightly weird snack is from Sam Sifton (food editor of the NYT): Make a piece of toast and spread it with peanut butter, add sliced pickles (I use relish) and a little sriracha or sambal oelek and a dash of soy sauce. Sweet, salty, crunchy. Delicious.

    Just received some Surrender to Chance samples – excited to try Masque Milano Madeleine!

    • March says:

      Gosh, that’s a great idea — I’m going to do the five-sense quiz when I walk! I do try to be mindful while walking and not fret over things or to-do items. I would totally eat toast with PB and pickles, next time I make toast I’m doing it, possibly with gochujang in place of sriracha.

  • Jennifer S says:

    Never had polenta before. I think I’d probably like it, though….ixnay on the soft boiled eggs. Every other iteration is fine! We had really really blue skies the other day. Very pretty, not a cloud in sight but it was cold out. Your town looks charming. I didn’t know it got that cold there!

    • March says:

      It does get cold here — not arctic, but it’s been in the single digits and teens more days than not recently, and I am tired of it! But today was absolutely lovely, and tomorrow should be as well.

  • Sarah Patton says:

    Hallo, March! Loved your post. Here’s my quick list: sight – snow upon snow. Looks like Narnia up here. Very cold so it’s light and fluffy. sound- the whoosh of the heater coming on, thank god. touch – smearing Neutrogena’s Light Oil on after every shower. Bought it at TJ Maxx and didn’t realize it came without a pump. Very inconvenient. Taste: Ah! microwave s’more. Graham cracker, choc chips, stale marshmallow. So fun to watch the ‘mallow blow up. Always very drippy.

    • March says:

      I hear there’s been quite a bit of snow there — I bet it’s lovely to look at! Gosh, I immediately remembered the smell of that oil, it’s a really nice smell, not cloying … do you have a pump dispenser you could swap out? Microwave s’mores lol, we definitely went through a period of those!

  • Dina C. says:

    What a nice sensual journey as winter turns to spring. I’m one of those people that dislikes Cream of Wheat, so I don’t think polenta would be my cup of tea. Tea, however: Yes! Love tea. I love hot toasted peanut butter & raspberry jam on English muffins as a snack or lunch. That’s been a favorite since high school. Our weather is getting warmer gradually, but still chilly, windy. I’ve been reading more vintage mysteries — lots of Patricia Wentworth lately. I figured out the Libby app, so I check these ebooks out free without leaving the comfort of my chair — sweet!

    • March says:

      I like my polenta more … porridge-y, but some people make it firmer. It’s great as a side dish with, say, salmon. I love peanut butter and jam on English muffins! I have these less-sugar preserves from Trader Joe’s — not some weird fake sugar, just less sweet and more like actual fruit, my favorites are their blueberry and raspberry. Vintage mysteries and a hot cuppa sound perfect for this time of year.

  • cinnamon says:

    Wonderful post, March (in March).

    I find eggs in most forms disgusting (they are fine in baking of course). I like scrambled and omelettes — that’s it.

    That pic with the old truck is great. A weird old/new conglomeration.

    I would love a ristra to hang by my door but you don’t get that sort of thing here. We do get elephant garlic garlands — I could do that to keep the vampires away …

    We have pretty endless skies. I love that. And something called a Devon bank — ie, high sides to narrow lanes (ie, head height) on which grow trees, hedges and flowers. The mixed smell of salt air from the tidal estuary, wood smoke, and farm animals. The smell of baked goods from Sara’s bakery and the fresh pizza smell from the van in Exmouth. Glorious.

    • March says:

      Lots of people share your aversion to eggs that haven’t been fully transformed, into omelettes (or cake lol) — I forget that sometimes. I had to dry-scramble my kids’ eggs, for sure. Ha, that old truck is such a Santa Fe moment, lots of vintage cars and trucks (and lowriders) here. I wonder if a Devon bank is the same thing as a holloway? A word I read/learned recently and thought, what a lovely sight that must be.

  • Tom says:

    We’ve been having weather wackiness here: one day 60° as a high and cloudy, then 90° with Santa Anas. One of the things I miss about winter back east are old iron steam radiators: that knock and hiss that says “incipient warmth” is so comforting.

    I have had the weirdest craving recently: baloney sandwiches. On wheat bread with french’s mustard and a handful of lays potato chips. And Sprecker root beer. Roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts. With lots of garlic.

    Soft boiled eggs are delicious. Runnier the better. With toast..

    • March says:

      Ooooof, 90F seems a bit … much. I love radiant/radiator heat, I don’t mind the knocking, I was thrilled to find a place that had it! Also, I would TOTALLY eat that baloney-and-chip sandwich hahahaha, I haven’t had one in decades but definitely ate them! (I’m assuming the chips are IN the sandwich, such a nice added crunch!) Love roasted broccoli and especially Brussels sprouts, another food my kids won’t eat.

      • Tom says:

        I’ve been having them on the side (well, sort of: bite sandwich, insert chips..) but I may have to just cut to the chase and put them on the sandwich. Who am I trying to impress?

        I’ve also been having a lot of Blenheim Ginger Ale- the “hot” one with the red cap. So delish. If I still imbibed I’d have to try it with bourbon.

  • Portia says:

    Hey March,
    A soft boiled egg has hard white, soft centre? If so then I’m with you. On toast? Yes please.
    Not embarrassing but my Mum used to make Savoury Mince. Basically it’s beef mince bolognese with Worcestershire sauce, some spices and every vegetable in the fridge chopped small. I make a huge batch and eat it on toast for a week. It looks like vomit but tastes like home. Jin hates it.
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      Yep! Soft boiled or poached or sunny side up — get the yolk all over the toast, plenty of salt and pepper! Your mince sounds absolutely delicious, I can taste it from your description, would totally eat it on toast if you’d share! Laughing because so much of my stir-fries and stews etc. taste delicious (at least to me) but … yeah, look kinda nasty in the age of Instagram.

      • Ariel says:

        Heck to Instagram. I love non-descript delicious mashes! Can always gussy up with a pretty dollop of yogurt and a sprig of cilantro or parsley if need be.

  • Musette says:

    Polenta … always confuses me.
    Soft boiled eggs. Would rather … well, nebbermind.

    I am a very boring eater, usually collards in some sort of curry. Occasionally I will go buck-wild! and make waffles for dinner.
    I always regret it.
    Music. A Certain Someone gave me an Echo Dot. I’m hooked – except now? I think Alexa is trying to sic the refrigerator on me – she’s been really bitchy . I could swear I heard her.. sigh.. when I asked her, for the 50th time, the name of a song!


    • March says:

      Hey I’m confused too… I don’t particularly like grits, and I should, right? Since I also like my corn goo creamy rather than set, I’m always terrified of hitting a lump lol. Glad you’re enjoying (?) your dot hahahah. I have Google Home and sometimes she/it/they just lose their minds. They’re probably sick of winter too.

  • rosarita says:

    Such a great read, as always, March. I made a pot of polenta with cheese for breakfast last week and keep wanting more, you’re not alone 😉

    • March says:

      Yessssssss. The polenta originally was purchased to be a side dish for salmon. I made the polenta first and … ate all the polenta vat instead of the fish, and I guess I’m eating it til the box is gone. Sometimes I get all fancy and stir in cheese and/or herbs.

  • Tara C says:

    Your photos and stories have me itching to visit Santa Fe! It looks lovely. As for food, I’m in a slump, tired of all my usual favorites. I think I need to start scouring the internet for some different vegetarian recipes. I hate cooking so often I just eat cereal for dinner. Sigh… I always swore if I won the lottery I’d hire a chef.

    • March says:

      I spent most of the summer eating salad, super low-effort. I don’t mind cooking but I always make enough for lots of leftovers, I’m one of those people who can eat the same thing for days until it’s gone lol. I do agree having a chef would be lovely!

  • Janet in California says:

    I do love your writing. So evocative, I feel the essence of Santa Fe. And now I need a heavy alpaca blanket.
    My comfort food is mashed potatoes and sausages. It is a hold over from hot lunches at school. I made it last night and added fire roasted corn. Delicious!

    • March says:

      Thank you! Sometimes my mind is a big ol’ blank and I struggle with writing. This ended up being fun. I would absolutely eat mashed potatoes and sausages. In a bowl. While reading a book.