Where is that magic place for you?
I’m talking of the place, when you imagine it, that makes your eyes drift to a distant point, far from the here and now? The place that takes your mind away from your physical body and into limbo?
Maybe it’s a place of sunshine and warmth, the prickle of sweat on the nape of your neck and the luscious sweetness of fresh pineapple on your tongue. Or could it be colour and crowds, jostling elbows and the din of bargaining in the bazaar?
Perhaps, like me, it’s a place of snow and stark mountains, where the air is as sharp and cold as crystal. Where nights of glittering stars can be glimpsed through the opening in a yurt, like gazing into a dark well.
I devote my sense of smell, for example, to Sicily, where the scent of orange blossom, fresh coffee, ground almonds, and dust fills the ancient streets.
My sense of taste and texture I owe to China, where I lived for some years. It was difficult, but eventually I came to relish all manner of slippery, slimy things; all kinds of firm, chewy rubbery things. Like beef tendon, jellyfish, pickled pig’s ears and soft, slippery, soup dumplings. Admittedly, walking amongst the stalls at the wet market on a steaming summer day, I occasionally wished my sense of smell was less acute.
It was also in China that I remember learning to listen. Walking through the green cathedral of a bamboo forest during rain, the gentle drip of water onto stones, the creak of the swaying bamboo, the burble of a stream, the vibrating rasp of a cricket hiding in the leaves. A symphony of the softest sounds of nature.
My eyes will never forget the rich, vivid purple of a spiked sea urchin, washed onto the rocks in Bruny Island, south of the island of Tasmania off Australia’s most southern tip.
As Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Tell me, what have your eyes seen that you will never forget? What tastes or scents or sounds of far-away places linger in your memory?