Archive for May, 2010

Holly and I took advantage of a moderately decent day after a stretch of cold and rain to run over to Pittsford Plaza. We took the interstate over, not my favorite, but I must say the Fatboy is much nicer to ride on such roads than my little Honda ever was.

Our errand done, Holly turned to me and said “I want to go for a long ride.” So I headed down 65. Drove all the way to Honeoye Falls: beautiful small village.

From there we headed east toward five points, and picked up Rt 15 south  to East Avon. Was great fun just to run through the New York countryside. Passed some family farms—a rarity these days–and a great big winged something-or-other bug met eternity right in front of my eyes on the windscreen, leaving a quarter-sized yellow splotch.

We took a left on 20 and headed over 390 to find a little roadside place called the Countryside Diner. Holly ordered the fried chicken, and I had the hamburger-and-macaroni soup with fried clams and a salad. Good food and generous with the soft drinks, all for the price of a deep-fried carb & starch meal at a burger franchise. A good meal for a decent price.

We headed home the long way, Rt 5 west to LeRoy, then north. It was a good day, and all the more fun for having Holly along. We can’t talk much on the ride, but seem to like the same kinds of places, and when we stop it always seems to lead to good father-daughter conversations. I’ll miss that when she moves on in a few years.

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Have you ever caught a scent that triggers a distant memory? Perhaps, the whiff of an apple pie or Tollhouse cookies recalls warm feelings of grandma’s kitchen.

My earliest memories are associated with farm smells. In the day to day, they are faint and seldom thought of, but when I encounter those odors, the full emotion floods my thoughts. Not clear images of specific events, but feelings of fascination and wonder, satisfaction—like a feeling of things being as they should be, and admiration.

According to science, the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic  system and is closely tied to the amygdala and hippocampus, which process emotions and associative learning. So a scent associated with an emotional stimulus creates an emotional memory.

Technicalities aside, it is spring, and riding through farm country means encountering the smells of barns being opened after the winter, ground being readied for planting, and cows turned out to graze fresh grass.

The pungent, slightly fermented smell of corn silage, especially freshly chopped corn, brings to mind corn cob pennies, Papec wagons, wheelbarrows and September. Though corn is chopped in the fall, the last stores of silage are being used up, and with the barns being Bugs on windscreen also come with spring in farm countryopened, the scent of feed at milking time wafts out across the road.

Fresh wood shavings combined with fresh cow manure (not the rancid gag-a-maggot stench of a manure lagoon!) recall  fairground livestock barns and admiration—those cows and barns were pristine, groomed for show, the best examples of husbandry, and lots of hard work.

The smell of sod recalls shiny moldboards, smooth turves curled over, and the tail ends of night crawlers evading a surprise suntan.

In all of it, there is a feeling of rightness, freshness, starting clean, and progress.