The daily walking commute from my Greenwich Village apartment to NYSOM’s offices in SoHo is a submersion into sensory overload. If I’m lucky, the bright sun shines down on my shoulders; if I’m not, I’m spritzed with a muggy, rainy mist. On one block, the sweet scent of lilies for sale outside the corner bodega beckons, and then I turn the corner and am met with the stench from trash bags — sometimes referred to with equal amounts of affection and disdain as “garbage juice” — lining the street for morning pick-up. Each of these exposures hit with particular potency in August, the hottest of these summer months.
Though New York City is best known as the city that never sleeps (a dubious claim, given that nothing seems to be open when I need it), it is also the city of infinite sensory experiences. In Taylor Swift’s ode to the Big Apple, “Welcome to New York,” she sings that “the lights are so bright, but they never blind me.” From morning, when the traffic picks up and the symphony of car horns begins, to night, when flashes from tourists’ cameras can be seen beaming off the the Empire State Buildling’s observatory, my New York City State of Mind is one in which each of the five senses are ceaselessly engaged.
I recently traveled along I-87 to visit and film two of our New York Makers in their studios: weavers frittelli & LOCKWOOD in Saratoga Springs and, in Potsdam, Adirondack Fragrance and Flavor Farm, manufacturers of organic skincare and food. The tactile weaving process at frittelli & LOCKWOOD is meaningless without the sight of the vibrant fabric hues. And the requisite soundtrack for this activity? “When we have to get things done [in the studio],” says Cecilia Frittelli, “disco goes down. Like KC and the Sunshine Band, that’s perfect. We can move.”
Farther upstate, Sandy Maine, of Adirondack Fragrance and Flavor Farm, explains that her New York State of Mind “is all about the scent map of New York State: from the salty seaside, to the streets of New York City with all the wonderful smells of the restaurants; the Finger Lakes smells like fish and lakes and lavender and grape vines; up to the Adirondacks where we have the beautiful, majestic white pine trees and the, the beauty of nature everywhere visually and sensually.”
The month is nearly over, but just as the sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells of New York State are distilled down to their essences, like a red wine reduction, we’re concentrating the next few days with an exploration of the unique sensory experience found here in New York State.
From New York City,