DAY 1107 March 24, 2017
Write your entry for today about a place that you have spent a considerable amount of time in--perhaps somewhere you lived or worked before--and whose smells are curiously linked with your recollection. Describe the emotions and events from that period that those smells conjure up, and the ways in which your memories may have been colored by your preference or distaste of those smells.
In my youthful days, days when I was driven by wholly different passions than I am today, I volunteered at the local aquarium. During my tenure as a Sea Urchin, the aquarium's term for their student volunteers, my favorite assignment was working with the aquarists in the back. I remember arriving in the early hours on summer mornings and passing through the mud brown door labeled "authorized personnel" into another world filled a new variety of new sensory delights that I can still recall with absolute clarity.
I would always start my shift in the few hours before the aquarium opened for the public. The vast halls and rooms were oddly silent except for the ambient sounds of the massive filtration and circulation machinery always working in the belly and bowels of the place. The gray green windows of the display tanks cast an almost cosmic glow in the shadowed interior. I would pass the rows of tanks on my way to the back, the round eyes of our residents watching me pass. I would always stop at the shark tank and spend a few brief moments watching the sand tigers circling slowly, their snaggle-toothed mouths agape and their black eyes fixed and staring. Behind the circular shark habitat there were the three expansive windows of the main husbandry tank, most often empty that time of the day. Without a resident sea lion or bottlenose dolphin, it always looked immense and cold to me.
It was the olfactory impressions of this place however that leave the strongest impression on my memory bank. Passing through the main lobby and side rooms and pushing open the door that lead to the aquarist area, I was immediately assaulted by the smells of the space. Here behind the tanks, were all the scents associated with the task of maintaining multiple marine environments and those creatures that dwell there. The air was flavored with the briny, slightly antiseptic smell of artificial seawater. There was also the pungent smell of fish meal loaves being chopped in the stainless steel kitchen or the biting scent of raw mackerel being stuffed with supplements and minerals. The strongest odors emanated from the buckets of squid and bait fish and from the rows of glass jugs where the aquarist cultivated brine shrimp for the filter feeders. Leaning over dark tank of the Pacific octopus, the water of that habitat always seem to have a strange tang of sweetness mixed with the faintest smell of detritus. The tidal touch tank smelled brightly of the powered salt that collected along the water line and low tide marks. The big river tank, the one that housed the rainbow trout and had to be accessed via a false woodsy terrain, smelled strongly like moss and brackish bays.
They were all strong smells, often not pleasant smells. They were the smells of this living world and I loved them. It was messy work, it was smelly work but it was the labor of love for me and I wore those smells home with me each day. The time I spent there is a vivid collection of wonderful memories, the foundation for something I carried forward with me in my life.
"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1590 March 24, 2017
"In late February, frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians responding to early warm temperatures began migrating from their winter hideouts to vernal pools to begin the spring mating season. Some of the animals were chaperoned to safety by concerned volunteers across trafficked streets late at night in New York and other Northeastern states. Write an essay about a time in your life when you made a big decision or took a leap. Did someone arrive to accompany you or were you on your own? Was your emotional journey guided by a crossing guard who brought you to safety?" ~ Writers Digest
Reflecting on the times of the bigger decisions in my life, I am forced to admit that those were the times I felt most solitary. In fact, I think the big decision moments felt that way because I had to make the decision for myself, with little counsel or guidance. That isn't to say I did not have people who helped me, because I did. The really big leaps though, I took many of those on my own and often, in relative secrecy from my loved ones. Divorcing my first husband is probably the one that really comes to mind. It wasn't so much the act of leaving the marriage that was the big decision but rather the emotional journey of freeing myself from a physically and verbally abusive relationship, one that I had hidden from everyone for almost five years. It came down to one moment, one moment when I had to decide to stand up and fight back. It had taken everything I had to push past all the shame and the fear and come out the other side. The day I pulled myself free, I was alone and it was awful and terrifying. It was also momentous and defining for me. Afterward, I did have "crossing guards" and good Samaritans who helped me with process of recovering myself and with healing. I found it much easier to let people in once I had made the leap. I think that that singular act, that decision, had to be mine alone.