Musk and moss and a pine forest sunrise. Red-walled canyons and grass freshly mowed and sheets warm from the dryer or never washed at all. Diesel and motors, paper and wood and ink and feathers and bone. New leather, old leather, leather that his great-uncle wore to war. Bread baking and espresso, incense and eucalyptus, cognac and cigars, citrus of any kind, and yes, tobacco. A light breeze coming in from the coast, shaving cream and soap, or no soap at all. High-grade chocolate made in Switzerland and out-of-this-world frybread made at home. His father’s bathroom, his mother’s perfume. Baby powder and spit-up milk and diapers dried on the line. Dog, slightly wet. Cattle and horses and the subway and hard work and the smell of an opening heart. Art paints in tubes and turpentine and fresh-cut flowers, roses and lilac and lilies. Chiles, marinara, kielbasa, chicken soup, and burgers on the grill. Clean clothes, dirty clothes, bleach, a hint of fear, damp wool, and something you could never, ever name.
Excerpted from What There Is To Love About A Man (Sourcebooks, 1999), my out-of-print homage to masculine qualities of body, mind and spirit. Used and blemished copies may be found around the Internet in places like this and this.