Sensuous

April 28th

homemade ice cream sandwiches

I’ve been reading, “A Natural History of the Senses” and have blushed more than once by this nonfiction account. Without a doubt, this is the sexiest science I’ve read and it has left me with a handful of the oddest observations too:

-Polar bear fur is translucent. They are white because the color of the snow and atmosphere gives the ivory perception.

-Benjamin Franklin loved to write in the nude.

-While two colors cannot occupy the same space without combining, two musical notes can.

homemade ice cream sandwiches

I told you — a very bizarre assortment of fact — but entertaining and fascinating too. Diane Ackerman’s woven prose thoughtfully ties together the senses in ways I’d never before considered.

In “hearing,” regarding drums and flutes being primitive instruments of most cultures:

“Something about the idea of breath or wind entering a piece of wood and filling it roundly with a vital cry — a sound– has captivated us for millennia. It’s like the spirit of life playing through the whole length of a person’s body. It’s as if we could reach into the trees and make them speak. We hold a branch in our hands, blow into it, and it groans, it sings.”

homemade ice cream sandwiches

In “vision,” regarding our lack of sufficient adjectives to describe the complexity of colors:

“The color language of English truly stumbles when it comes to life’s processes. We need to follow the example of the Maori of New Zealand, who have many words for red — all the reds that surge and pale as fruits and flowers develop, as blood flows and dries. We need to boost our range of greens to describe the almost squash-yellow green of late winter grass, the achingly fluorescent green of the leaves of high summer, and all the whims of chlorophyll in between. We need words for the many colors of clouds, surging from pearly pink during a calm sunset over the ocean to the electric gray-green of tornadoes. We need to rejuvenate our brown words for all the complexions of bark. And we need cooperative words to help refine colors, which change when they’re hit by glare, rinsed with artificial light, saturated with pure pigment, or gently bathed in moonlight.”

In “touch,” describing the evolution of the kiss:

“It’s as if, in the complex language of love, there were a word that could only be spoken by lips when lips touch, a silent contract sealed with a kiss. One style of sex can be bare bones, fundamental and unromantic, but a kiss is the height of voluptuousness, an expense of time and an expanse of spirit in the sweet toil of romance, when one’s bones quiver, anticipation rockets, but gratification is kept at bay on purpose, in exquisite torment, to build to a succulent crescendo of emotion and passion.”

And if I haven’t sold you on the beauty of this book quite yet, another favorite line:

“Great artists feel at home in the luminous spill of sensation, to which they add their own complex sensory Niagara.”

~K

{The ice cream sandwiches:  Smelled like cinnamon, dark chocolate, brown sugar. Tasted salty and sweet, with crunchy oats and soft dough. Felt warm and cold, as the vanilla ice cream dribbled between my fingers. Looked fabulous but fleetingly so; they disappeared quickly.

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16 Responses

  1. Angie in Mexico April 28, 2009

    I want to buy it!!
    And your description of the ice-cream sandwiches, mmmm, I can almost taste them with my eyes closed!

  2. Dude, you have no idea how much i want an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie right now. And a beer. Possibly as a result of 10 straight days of alcohol? hmmm

  3. WOW…oh, and the ice cream sandwiches look good too!

  4. Ewwwww….my eyes! I cant seem to get the picture of Benjiman Franklin out of my mind’s eye!

    Just kidding~~~~ pass some cookies:)

  5. The quote about color gave me chills. Sounds like a great book!

  6. I read that book years ago and I agree with you that it is a very senuous science book! Now if only I could smell and taste those ice cream sandwiches!

  7. wow. you sold me on that book. :o) sounds awesome!

  8. Oh my goodness….must have ice cream sandwich. Those look soooo good.

  9. Pass the ice cream sandwiches!

  10. Oh my, does that make me hungry!!! They look soooo good!!

  11. Mmmmm! MMmmmm! MMMMMmm! Delicious words AND delicious treats! Thanks for the mouthwatering post Kelli! Cup of tea and a chat coming soon, I promise! Until then, be well, eat yummy things, and keep smilin’ Sister!

  12. (The ice cream sandwiches: Smelled like cinnamon, dark chocolate, brown sugar. Tasted salty and sweet, with crunchy oats and soft dough. Felt warm and cold, as the vanilla ice cream dribbled between my fingers. Looked fabulous but fleetingly so; they disappeared quickly)

    It seems you’re learning fast how to describe things…..

  13. I’m going to suggest that we start our nonfiction group in my book club with that book. it looks so interesting! Thanks for the suggestion.

  14. Wow! Those look amazing!!! Thanks for the inspiration to bake!!

  15. I LOVE THIS ENTRY! EVERY SINGLE WORD AND PICTURE! (AND I’M HUNGRY NOW)

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