Thanksgiving is tomorrow. We all will be stuffing our faces with turkey, rolls, potatoes and of course, stuffing, but before our families sit together, before you take a single bite of that sweet potato mash, even before the food is set out on the table, there is one thing that makes the holidays feel like the holidays. Oh, the decorations add the sparkle and the warm clothes set the mood, but I think what really makes the holidays feel like the wintry warmth known only in November and December are the aromas; the sweet and spicy scent of nutmeg and pumpkin, the fullness of thyme, rosemary and sage, the tantalizing scent of rising bread, or tart berries, and finally the cinnamon apple cider wafting in the air. All of these make you want to just close your eyes and breathe in the holiday.
As writers, we learn to keep our eyes open, to observe everything we can and later offer a different, unique perspective. But our eyes are not our only observatory device. Learning to use all of the senses offers us to observe even more and sometimes, cutting off one sense to enhance another offers a different experience. It does not have to be Thanksgiving to smell inspiring scents, but this holiday offers a collective harmony of sweet spice that may just get that pen moving.
Plus, names of spices and seasonings are often interesting on the tongue. In A Sense of Light or Darkness, I have a poem called “Winter Savory”. In this poem I use words like tarragon and chicory -words that bring up very specific scents, and also, individual memories. These words have that same unique power the thought of bread or cookies have: that just by thinking of them, they nearly materialize, and you can almost smell their scent. It’s a powerful tool for a writer to be able to develop a whole, complete world -a world with not just amazing sights, but sounds, texture and scents. So, close your eyes and observe.
P.S. If you are not familiar with seasonings, (or you know the scent but can’t place the name) read through a cookbook, or online recipes to get to know more uncommon seasonings or food. Or, take a trip to your grocery (or pantry) and head to the seasoning isle.