From coming home to eat

Gary Paul Nabhan’s piece, from Coming Home to Eat

Whenever I have doubts about whether all of this effort has been worth it, I go out into the wilds behind my backyard and taste a fruit or flower freshly plucked from a tree or vine. My mouth, my tongue, and my heart remind me what my mind too often forgets: I love the flavor of where I live, and all the plants and creatures I live with.

They say your senses dull as you age. We are familiar with the gradual loss of sight and hearing, possibly rectified with glasses and avoiding night driving or adding in hearing aids. But the loss of smell, taste, touch….what does that experience feel like? Does it feel like losing a part of yourself? Or does the loss seem so gradual that is it not even discernable, the baseline shifted to the new normal, each and every day?

The memories of a whiff of orange-zested cinnamon buns, the mulled clove wine in the winter. Freshly cut grass and the wet earth awakening in the spring time. The effervescence nose of a class of champagne.

The taste of creamy chived goat cheese on a seeded cracker. The melt in your mouth sugar cookie that was Nadine’s recipe. The tangy twist of a bright Meyer lemon.

And touch…being able to grab a hot plate with ease. The nerves either damaged or aged to the point that they don’t fire as strongly, don’t scream out to be heard. Or the softness of a hand inside your own palm, fingers long-ago calloused and softened through with the thinning of skin and the fading of sensation and the passage of time.

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