Riding the Motorcycle
Riding a motorcycle offers ample opportunity to enjoy all the visual details of each place we pass. However, the most amazing details are the olfactory ones—the smells that one can’t always appreciate, or even notice while driving in an air-conditioned car, with the windows closed.
Fields of clover and of Queen Anne’s lace are fragrant-perfume experiences, as are driving by fields of sweet new-mown hay or freshly cut lawns. As we drive near woodlands, a cool balsam-y smell of dampness, moss and leaves wafts toward us.
Along the coast, we get wind of the tang of salt water, the briny scent of wet sand and pungent seaweed, and sometimes, the nose-wrinkling odor of brackish salt water marshes.
The road itself offers up smells, sun-warmed oily tar and the suffocating stink of dead skunk. From the bike, there is a hint of hot metal coming from the pipes, exhaust smells and a whiff of heated rubber from the tires.
I notice a subtle trace of chemical smell coming from my new helmet, a perfume of coconut from the sunscreen on my face, the appealing scent of my husband’s skin.
Driving out in the fresh air really increases the sensitivity to smells—both good and bad—now we smell everything, even scents we don’t usually register.
We drive by chip shops and restaurants, our noses full of the pungent greasiness of fried foods. We stand in line for ice cream and breathe the electric-heat smell from the ice-cream freezers, the cool milky scent of ice-cream, a trace of musky pong from the others in line, beach-goers full of salt and sand and sweat.
Unfortunately, we can also smell the faintly rank garbage can in the parking lot, foul and fermenting in the heat.
Near the end of the day, we drive home sniffing comforting wood smoke from campfires and fire pits, and take in the juicy fragrance of meat grilling on a barbecue.
The heady perfume of peonies greets us as we return to our own driveway.
On the motorcycle, all the subtle odors of summer reach our nostrils, a full range from the malodorous to the sublimely aromatic. This heightened sense of smell makes the ride a sensory rich experience.