Wednesday, July 14, 2010

At a certain point

When the weather allows, I use my bike for my commute from the University of Washington. It is about a 6-mile trip, so it is not a terribly taxing ride, but when it is warm, it seems that it is a long hot pull up on Shilshole Avenue in Ballard to the intersection at 24th. I am always hot when I get there. Thankfully, that is the highest point between Ballard and the marina, so from there it is level or slightly down hill.

That is, once I leave Ballard heading west, the character of the ride changes - it is more relaxed, more easy going.

And at a certain point, at the Locks, there is a not-so-subtle change. The smell of the air changes from baked asphalt, mown grass, dust, and becomes scented with the sea.

There is nothing like it.

Scientists say that your olfactory lobe is wired deeply, back into the more primitive parts of your brain. I believe it. I know that the first whiff of the sea brings a relaxation in my neck and shoulders, a little smile, and often an involuntary sigh. And an emotional lift. The thought, "I am home," with all the connotations of belonging, of comfort, of contentment washes over me. Whatever problems I have had at work fade away right there.

I admit it: I am a slave to my olfactory lobe.

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