June 24 – Celebration of the Senses Day

Posted on June 24, 2014

One reason that some books really capture us is that they seem to put us into another world with descriptions of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and even feelings that we are not actually sensing.

Some of us forget to pay attention to the sensations we ARE actually sensing. Today, try not to take your senses for granted!

  • Do an experiment. Arrange 5 things for a friend to taste without seeing, and have him or her arrange a blind taste-test for you. Also, try a blind taste-test while holding your nose. Can you tell the difference between a chunk of peeled apple and a chunk of peeled raw potato – with your eyes closed and your nose firmly pinched closed?

    Or test your smeller with your eyes closed, or feel things with your hand to see if you can identify them by touch.

  • Try the memory game with things you see (looking at a tray full of small objects for a full minute, and then trying to write them all down), but then with again with things you hear: Have your friend clap a rhythm, and then you copy it. Have your friend add to the rhythm, one bit at a time, and see how long a sequence of sounds you can remember accurately.

  • Write a description of a place, using colorful adjectives as well as carefully chosen, specific nouns and verbs. Try describing a crowded beach, an amusement park, a bakery, or a mountain meadow.

  • Make every meal today a riot of colors and of different textures.

  • Some people have synesthesia, in which their senses cross over. That means that they can hear colors and see sounds, for example. Use your imagination to decide what each of the rainbow colors would sound like.

  • Did you know that we have more than five senses? Wikipedia states that, in addition to sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, we also have a sense of balance and acceleration, a kinesthetic sense of where the various parts of our body are located in relation to the rest (that's why you can touch your nose with your finger even with your eyes closed), a temperature sense, a sense of pain, and a sense of time passing.
(I think that the first four are usually bundled into the “touch” sense, but apparently they shouldn't be?) 
I wonder about a sense of direction. Many people seem to feel very strongly which direction is north, and which is east, south, west—even when we are cut off from the sun and moon and other celestial clues. But do we just THINK we have a sense of direction? Has this ever been tested?

  • More experiments – try to eat food in an unusual way by playing with temperatures and textures. Freeze some grapes and eat them frozen. Color your orange juice brown (with green food coloring) and your lemonade orange; do they taste different? Put your favorite chunky vegetable soup through a blender, then heat and eat – does it still taste as good? Heat some crunchy granola in milk, as if it were oatmeal, and see how hot granola-and-milk stacks up against the cold-cereal version. (Be sure to stir often so that the milk doesn't scald!)

Also on this date:

Inti Raymi (Sun Festival) in Peru

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