What the nose knows

Here are a couple of images of a local tomato harvest that I thought you might enjoy. This field is across the street from tomatoes I showed you last week and immediately adjacent to sunflowers I featured here a month ago. The image of the harvester was taken as workers began to work the field a week ago and that of the bin was taken just the other day. I have often thought that it would be nice if someone would develop a technology that would allow you to smell aromas associated with pictures displayed on your computer monitor, tablet, or smartphone. If such a technology did exist and you were to click the image to the right, you would sense the rich aroma which emanated from the transport bin. The load was heavy and fruit at the bottom was getting a bit squashed. When I stood still I could hear the drip, drip, drip of sweet streams of fluid. Sweet, but not overpowering. The scent wafted up my nostrils and seemed to settle in that place, adjacent to the nose bridge and just below my eyes; that place where the pads of your glasses sit. As I continued to breath, the aroma matured as chemical signals steeped in the moistened walls of the sinus. Smell became taste as a cavalcade of electrical impulses traveled to my brain and from there to my parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands. Almost instantly I was salivating. I shook off the sensory barrage and captured a few images. Forgive me for continuing with a comparatively unpleasant story, but I must report that I experienced a similar sensory phenomenon the other morning, though with a very different outcome. I was driving to town when I was assaulted by the odorous emanation of an as yet unseen, but well known, source. If you’ve ever wondered about such things you may be interested to know that the highly noxious smell produced by skunks may be sourced to a number of chemicals produced by the animal’s scent glands, mostly thiols (sulfurous mercaptans) and their thioacetate derivatives. The enclosed space of the cab filled with scent about a half-mile or so before I saw the offending (but unfortunately dead) animal in the middle of the road. Rather than causing me to salivate, the physiological cascade made my eyes water. I was just a bit disgusted when I realized that, in the same way that a sweet chemical mélange allowed me to taste tomatoes, this offending onslaught made me feel as though I was tasting the (literal) wretched secretion of the skunk. As soon as I was upwind, and though the morning was cold, I opened both windows to flush the cab. End of story.



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