A couple weeks ago I finished reading Diane Ackerman's beautiful book, A Natural History of the Senses.
I still can't get it out of my head, and during the read I almost daily regaled my friends Theresa and Joe with reading aloud small excerpts about something she says on Vision, or Touch, or Smell, or Taste, or Hearing. I'll still reference something from her even on my walks with Joe to the library, or on a Sunday afternoon, wielding a knife while I'm making a vegetable & cheese platter in anticipation of wine and Canasta with Theresa, and Joe with a beer and the Los Angeles Times. Besides the fascinating scientific insights that she imparts about our senses, her prose draws you in like a lover holding the bed covers open for you to slip inside.
This is one of several excerpts I'm going to post; it's from page 256:
"When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn't matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn't matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life's many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we all are. It probably doesn't matter if a passerby sees us dipping a finger into the moist pouches of dozens of lady's slippers to find out what bugs tend to fall into them, and thinks us a bit eccentric. Or a neighbor, fetching her mail, sees us standing in the cold with our own letters in one hand and a seismically red autumn leaf in the other, its color hitting our senses like a blow from a stun gun, as we stand with a huge grin, too paralyzed by the intricately veined gaudiness of the leaf to move."
[Ackerman, Diane. A Natural History of the Senses, New York: Vintage Books, 1991.]