The air conditioner in our car is ... well, not quite "broken" but sort of fritzy. It isn't quite what it once was. So, recently, we have been driving with the windows down. This is something I was actually quite accustomed to as a child, but in the decades since then, I have become a "windows up" driver pretty exclusively.
What I have found is amazing. Wonderful. Sure, you have to make sure there aren't any loose papers in the car, but otherwise I love it. The journey to take my husband to work (15 miles away) and the return to get him in the evening is an incredible sensory experience.
The first thing that caught my attention was on an evening trip. Driving past restaurants at around 5 pm is beyond words. The smells are intoxicating. Steaks, onions, peppers...anything being cooked on a grill or griddle that needs to vent to the outdoors is available. Last week when we had to drive downtown (unfamiliar territory for us) we tried to guess what restaurants we were near by scent.
"I definitely smell onions grilling. Oh, there's a Mexican place. That could easily be fajitas."
"Do you smell Chinese food? I smell Chinese food."
"There's a Thai place on the corner. That's probably it."
"Can you tell we're in Texas? Smell that steak!"
Try it in your town. All it costs is some wind-swept hair.
This morning was different. The "feast for the senses" was not aromas this morning. It usually isn't. This morning there were wonderful sounds, everyday sounds, that just somehow seemed ... more than everyday.
The best times to try were at red lights. The wind itself gets very loud, plus the sound of our own car's engine. But at the stops...a small dog barking...someone playing a radio in their yard...as we got closer to his office it was more commercial and less residential. My second favorite was the sound of the expressway we were not on, but next to. Occasionally there were not brakes or horns, just the sound of the cars driving by. It sounded like a river.
Then, after he was gone and I had gone home alone, past a fire truck with its siren on, I got to my neighborhood, passed a lawnmower and weed-eater, and to my favorite sound of the morning. Elementary school recess. Laughter, squeals, running sneakers, all brought a smile to my face and a nice start to my day.