The Spokes-Women Reporter
July, 2009

This Month's Content

Motorcycle News

Americade 2009

Bill & Kate at the Deleware Water Gap

Motorcycles Built for Women (submitted by Jamie Beckett)

Unusual Motorcycles


New member Shirley Putnam. Her ride is a 96 Honda Magna 750

July Birthdays

Liz Smith

Article Submission Deadline for the August Issue is July 31


For Sale

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Technical Corner

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Newsletter Archives

The Smells of Summer

by Liz Smith

After seemingly endless weeks of rain it appears that we have broken out of our soggy weather pattern – at least for a bit. That, of course, means that we’ve been able to spend more time out of doors and on two wheels. And that’s a good thing, to quote Martha Stewart.


For me, motorcycling is a very sensory experience – the feel of the wind (yes, even inside my full face helmet), the heat of the engine and heat from the pavement, the view of the pines, wetlands, rivers and cedar swamps, the pull of acceleration as I twist the throttle. But one of the most powerful sensory experiences is the sense of smell.


Scientists have told us for years that the sense of smell is very strongly linked with our memory, and a smell from your distant past can unleash a flood of memories that are so intense and striking that they seem to be real at the moment. I can think of two times when I have had this type of experience.


When I was a young child, about 8 years old or so, our family traveled to Germany to visit my mother’s side of the family. I was an early riser, and my grandmother would take me with her to the “Fruchthalle” – the open air market where produce was sold. It was all wonderfully fresh, and especially the aroma of fresh strawberries and other fruits perfumed the air. It would be another 25 to 30 years later when I again traveled back to Germany with my parents for a visit. We walked past what had been my grandmother’s house and admired the new gilt paint that the current owners had put on the ironwork. But as soon as we set foot in the Fruchthalle with all the aromas, in a flash those many years disappeared and I was a little girl again shopping with my grandmother.


Another smell that takes me back is not quite so popular, although I don’t mind it. When I lived in California, our family used to travel with my aunt and uncle’s family to their house in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Those summers were filled with the smells of dusty trails, the heavy pine scent and most notably the smell of what we called “Miner’s Misery” – more properly called Mountain Misery – a low, brushy shrub with a very pungent aroma that grew wild throughout the area. A walk through that stuff would heavily scent whatever clothing my cousins and I had on, prompting our parents to request that we put them in the wash as soon as we got back to the house. To this day when I even think about that scent my mind flashes back to happy summers hiking and horseback riding with my cousins.


Now for me the summer smells have changed a bit – not just the pine barrens, or the cool smell of the rivers and wetlands I traverse, or the sizzle of a hamburger on the charcoal grill – now the summer scents include the whiff of a bit of gasoline and grease, of No-Wet cleaner and Honda cleaner, and sometimes the smell of an approaching rainstorm after a long dry spell.


But I think summer is finally upon us here in the Garden State. So let’s get out and enjoy the summer with all of our senses. Wishing everyone happy and safe summer rides!



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