Posted by: thehungryrunner | October 1, 2011

Tour di Fragrances: The ultimate workout for the senses!

Heading out on my usual Saturday morning run, I’m beginning to think my “Hungry” badge isn’t just limited to cravings of the culinary kind.  Whether I’m running or taking a leisurely bike ride around my community, I’m increasingly noticing a peculiar pavlovian stimulation of my olfactory nerves.  In intervals as regular as any good speed drills, I find myself eagerly smelling the air; what am I detecting as I head through this neighborhood?  Around that park?  Past that restaurant?  Near that festival?  It’s as if my run has taken on a purpose beyond mere cardiovascular conditioning, granting me this luxuriously long feast of the senses, my nose constantly breathing in the next “course” as I meander through the miles.

Amused by this development, I paid closer attention to the various “scents-ory mileposts” provided by today’s outing:  There was the initial bombardment of earthy fragrances — the smell of the morning dew as it bakes away, carrying with it a perfume cocktail of leaves, dirt and flowers.  Then there are the household breakfasts.  I imagine many of these are families with children, bustling about before the day’s sporting or other events.  Whatever the case, I find myself enjoying the aromatic “helpings” of some unseen kitchen cooking sausage, another one toast and jelly, another, pancakes, and still another, something that contains cinnamon.  Drooling, I decide another circle through that subdivision is in order.  Hey, whatever motivates you!

Hooking onto the creekside trail, I’m now passing by the natural flora:  stands of trees and shrubs and a colorful mixture of tall grasses, steeping in the sun and nearly bowling me over with alternating scents of onion, licorice, and sweetgrass.  Later, as I sideswipe the local campground on the shores of Newport Bay, I catch the distinct allure of chocolate chip cookies, just out of the oven.   Mmmmm.  It seems even the smell of carbs is enough to boost my energy (or is it delirium?)!  As if to one-up the Tollhouse delight, the smell of a nearby campfire brings to mind that wonderful carefree feeling of being on vacation, with the most pressing item on the agenda the question of whether s’mores taste better with milk or dark chocolate.

Returning to earth (yes, the smell of food does levitate me, why do you ask?), I’m reminded that the lovely bay I’m looking out at feeds into the ocean — the smell of fish and brine hangs in the air (it seems the seagulls are just as aware of this as I).  Reaching one of the more frequented park areas, my nose wrinkles as the Ode to the Ocean is interrupted by that unmistakable “p.u.” of dog poop — late-summer dog poop, no less.  Blech.  No one said it would be all roses and coffee!

Speaking of, seems I’m not far from a local coffee shop at this point.  How do I know?  Do I need to tell you?  When it comes to freshly brewed caffeine, the nose knows!  Detouring to the weekly farmer’s market, I grind to a trance-like stroll, drifting past the stands in a sea of aromatic apples, peppery heirloom tomatoes, spicy soups, fresh bread and pungent goat’s milk cheese.  I mentally construct a dozen recipes I’m sure to forget about by the time I next use my kitchen and head back out, one final “whiff” for the road.

Back on course, I’m on the return trip now, whizzing past those same trees and grasses and enjoying another round of “Eau di Herbs and Dry Leaves,” though this time I’m also detecting eucalyptus and even citronella.  The most exquisite aromatherapy spas only wish they could capture this experience!  My final corner before hitting our driveway seals the deal:  some wonderful smoked something or other coming from the nearby Stonefire Grill restaurant.  If the caloric output of my workout wasn’t enough to stimulate my appetite, that “final hurrah” inhale does the trick every time!  Time for my post-run (or bike) snack.  Yay!

My only dilemma:  How to get cottage cheese and whey protein to taste like toast with jelly?  Or wood-fired pizza?  Until then, I’ll have to content myself with that preceding All-You-Can-Smell Buffet as my appetizer, and let this snack simply be the fuel that powers tomorrow’s Tour di Fragrances!

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