Back when I taught elementary school, I taught lessons on the five senses. I’d bring in different things for them to smell, taste, and touch and we’d discuss how to tell them apart. We’d draw pictures and then describe them to someone else to see if that person got the same vision we did. And we’d listen to different sounds to see if we could identify them.
When I started writing, a very wise critique partner told me I needed to let the reader experience all five senses. A dialogue taking place in a farmyard is going to present a totally different experience than one in the middle of a bustling city. A change in seasons can make a big difference, too.
Since fall is my favorite season, I thought I’d share what my senses pick up on this time of year. I’d love it if you’d weigh in, too.
Sight: In Michigan, the trees are covered with leaves in lots of vibrant colors. People get into their cars and go on “color tours” through the state. Roadside produce stands feature pumpkins and squash, and houses are decorated with corn stalks and cornhusk wreaths. School playgrounds are filled with children before school and at lunchtime. It’s a pretty time, even in the city. Fall is a great time for walks around the block, especially with little ones who like to stop and pick them up.
Sound: On weekends in October, the television is set to whatever station is carrying the Detroit Lions game. It was that way while I grew up, too. My dad watched the Lions, my brothers both played football, and since I was in the marching band (and my daughters both played in marching band) I’ve watched a lot of football. Several of my grandkids play soccer – so that’s been added to the mix. There’s something energizing about sitting in the stands (or in front of the TV) and cheering for someone on the field. Fall is also when the community orchestras begin rehearsing after taking the summer off, so I have to start practicing.
Smell: Since I don’t do any of the cooking, the only time I use the kitchen (other than to warm something up in the microwave) is when I bake. Cooler weather inspires me to do more baking. Each time I pull something out of the oven, I’m reminded of the baking my grandma used to do. Some of our neighbors have gardens and occasionally someone will show up with extra zucchini or carrots – hubby uses some of it for dinner, and the rest goes into dessert!
Taste: I am the only person in my family who likes the taste of pumpkin. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bars, pumpkin flavored drinks, and just plain pumpkin. This past weekend I attended a book bash in Kalamazoo, and there happened to be a popular coffee place right in the hotel. I downed two pumpkin chai drinks. I’ll worry about the calories later.
Touch: Fall is time for wool sweaters and fleece jackets to come out of storage. The coolness is offset by the comforting warmth of the outerwear. I like wearing fleece, sewing it, and knitting it. I hope the people who wear the things I make get comfort and warmth from them, too.
How does autumn affect your senses?
Your descriptions are lovely! How I wish we had vibrant colors here! I ‘ll be working on my post for Friday, since Autumn is my favorite season.
Thanks, Tonette! I love the changing colors here. When I worked full-time, I looked forward to the drive home because my route went through lots of changing foliage.
I also had a beta reader impress me that many of my dialog-heavy scenes needed more sensory elements. Slowly I think I’ve improved that as I’m drafting or revising, but I used to write scenes more like they were play scripts… with the odd notion that the audience (i.e., reader) would supply her/his own sensory elements. Nope. I need to guide the reader into those scenes.
Yes, it’s funny how we think the reader is going to imagine things the way we see them in our heads!
I love that as the leaves fall, and yes I love the change of colour, you can see the sunlight slanting in on the undergrowth, bringing the formally muted palette of colours alive.
I always remember the sound of my feet scuffing through the leaves when walking through any wood.
I live near the sea so it is a time when we ‘get our beach back’ from the tourists who have mostly gone home. Sunlight on water… magical.
Pumpkin anything… urrgh! As for the smell… yuck!
As for the touch of warm clothes that kill out the chill? Bliss 🙂
I can imagine the lack of tourists would increase your enjoyment of the beaches! Yes, sunlight on the water (here on the west side of the state we see the sunset on the water) is magical. Sad that you don’t like pumpkin, but I guess that leaves more for me! Thanks so much for visiting, Sherry.
I’ve often wanted to drive up to see the trees in Michigan.