Feeling Rich, in Touch with our Senses

Diane Ackerman  published years ago a “lusciously written” book entitled A Natural History of the Senses. My students enjoyed reading passages from the book for their summary assignments. Both poet and scientist in her approach, Ackerman has since written Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden, a book I have relished reading for its keen observations. Here is a passage:

Many things catch light prismatically–fish scales, the mother-of-pearl inside a limpet shell, oil on a slippery road, a dragonfly’s wings, opals, soap bubbles, peacock feathers, metal that’s lightly tarnished, the wing case of beetles, spiders’ webs smeared with early-morning dew.


Author Kathy Pooler’s blog post yesterday, December 5, 2013 features actor and author Bryan Cohen who shares the knack of tapping into one’s senses to access childhood memories.

Read it here!


13 thoughts on “Feeling Rich, in Touch with our Senses

  1. You and I have read, and enjoyed, so many of the same books, Marian. Such parallel lives. I loved Ackerman’s chapter on smell especially and remembered it when I was writing my memoir Blush.


    1. You’ve heard the expression “sisters under the skin.” I’m convinced that is true of us — both under and above! I love seeing your smile in my posts. Soon your memoir class will be over and maybe you can take a teeny-weeny breather: You so deserve it!


  2. I love that you talk about our riches, and it’s about our abundance of senses.

    In my training to be a Waldorf teacher I studied Rudolf Steiner’s understanding of our senses, and he identifies even more riches: he finds we have twelve, yes, 12 senses! I love to think about life this way, even though I, like any of us brought up in an age of materialism, sometimes forget about the ones that don’t have a readily identifiable sense organ. Balance, for example, is a sense, says Rudolf Steiner, and I wonder how to point to my proprioceptor? (not sure I even spelled it right)


    1. Your spelling of proprioceptor is spot on, as my online dictionary will attest. In fact, I used these muscles this morning in PowerPump class. Thanks for adding another word to my vocabulary and for introducing me to Rudolf Steiner’s work. I’ll have to look him up too! I feel my mind expanding already. Thanks, Dolores.


    1. Until I read Ackerman’s quote, I never thought of oil on a wet road as beautiful. I have always seen it as danger–all depends on your point of view. Thanks, Susan. Have a great weekend!


    1. My heart leaps up when I see authors connecting with their audiences–other readers and bloggers. My Master’s thesis was on learning styles and since that time I have been a student of varied ways people become aware of their surroundings and thus learn. Thanks for commenting, Bryan.


  3. Diane Ackerman’s from my neck of the woods. She lives in Ithaca, NY where I went to college and met my husband. We bought land 18 miles from Ithaca. It’s where I go to a great independent bookstore and to readings. I loved her book ‘One Hundred Names for Love: A Memoir’ perhaps more than any other. I love memoir. I love a good love story. And I understand what it is to deal with a struggling spouse and love them through the worst of it. If you haven’t read it, you’re in for a treat, Marian. Thanks for sharing this great piece, Marian.


    1. And thanks for telling me more about an author I have known for decades. Your description of her setting and her struggling spouse certainly makes her seem more 3-dimensional to me. In fact, I shall check our library for her memoir and put a hold on the book. She never disappoints. And you are always so encouraging and helpful, Elaine. Thanks so much!


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