Monday, April 26, 2010


The small rabbit sits on the path about 15 meters ahead of us, its tiny nose twitching furiously.

Lindsay hasn't noticed it yet. She's too busy attending to some interesting scent just to the right of me, black and white tail at the alert, her own nose twitching with excitement.

The rabbit hasn't moved. It sits in profile, tall ears erect, its dark left eye watching Lindsay's every move.

And then its gone. One single bound into the tall grasses by the side of the pathway and its as if the rabbit had never been. Lindsay has finished her investigation of the interesting scent, her tail is back to wagging with excitement, she looks up at me to ask why I'm standing still. She prances through the puddle in front of us, runs down the pathway a few feet, and then looks back as if to say, "Come on, lets get going!"

So I start walking and Lindsay bounds on ahead, past the spot where the rabbit had been sitting.

Catching the recent scent in passing, she backtracks, nose to the ground and is off on the trail. But the rabbit is now long gone.

I walk on, thinking about our senses. Lindsay has missed the rabbit right in front of her because she was turned into the sense of smell not sight. I'd been reading, a few days ago, that scientists had discovered that our brains tune out unnecessary sensation, to prevent distraction from our primary sense of sight. Put on clothes in the morning and we can feel the fabric against our skin. But, however rough or comfortable, however sensual our clothing feels, within minutes of dressing, our brains tune out that awareness.

For a moment I focus on the weight of the coat on my back, the slight itch of my scarf, the tightness of the hat on my head, the feel of the day's cool air against my hands, the constriction of my feet in my boots, the light breeze rustling the hair that is beginning to grow back on my head.

But when I begin to listen to the distant grumbling of the city in the background, the crash of the waves at the bottom of the bluffs, the clicking of the branches in the tall trees, the crunch of my feet on the gravel pathway, I realize my brain has already tuned out the feel of my clothing.

I struggle to both feel and listen at the same time. I can do it, kind of. But not well.

I'm a very visual and auditory person. My wife has a much greater awareness of aromas and tactile sensation. She will track me down in Sears to have me come over to feel an interesting fabric on a dress that has delighted her.

I remember our dinner at the restaurant last night, the air alive with wonderful aromas. The delicious warm taste of the food, the coolness of the wine glass. Linda momentarily reaching across the table to squeeze my hand as she tells a funny story about her day at work.

Suddenly I was no longer aware of the pains in my back.

Then Lindsay comes crashing her way through the brush and tall grasses, interrupting my revere, returning from the rabbit hunt. She pushes her way back onto the path, twigs stuck in her tail and long ears. She shakes herself vigorously, loosening a few of the twigs, the rest she just ignores.