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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Remembering Place

So, I've had this thing lately.  It's this spontaneous remembering thing.  Not like I've forgotten something and now can recall it.  It's more of a 'favorites' thing.  I all of a sudden, spontaneously remember a place that I have traveled to, a person. an activity.  Mostly though it is my old journeys I remember, out of the blue.
This is all OK with me, even if I am bothered by the why of it.  Why would some old experience with place jump into my mind?  Why some places and not others?  What is the point and meaning of this kind of remembering?

Like I said though, I don't really mind.  It's like getting to visit these places again and again.  It's like a happy little surprise when all of the sudden my mind's eye shows me the section of highway 395 between Bridgeport and Walker, California.  The specific spots I've visited so many times over the years.  That spot in the road, on the right, just perfect for pulling over, the quick crunch of tires on roadside gravel.  The mountains rising up, sharp on the left side of the road and the Walker river on the right.  The smell of the cool air filled with pinons, sage brush, wild flowers and mountain water.  A place to let a dog out for a minute, stretch your legs and chuck a few rocks in the water below.  A place for photographs and laughter.  Each time noticing the difference in the water level or if parts are frozen over.  Through old and new relationships and configurations of travelers, this spot remains in my heart.
Or, backtracking a little, there is the moment in the road leaving Bridgeport where the tall white house on the left stands, just as it has for over a century, alone, surrounded by cottonwood trees.  Two stories of strength and stories, it's back to the ranch land it owns, cows meandering in the pasture.  The split rail fences along here barely stand after so many years, but continue to do their job of persuading the cattle to remain on the alfalfa and off the asphalt.  This area is snowbound come winter, but in my mind it is always the green of spring.  So much promise is held here that it is no wonder the early settlers set up their home that would last for generations.  This house and land held the dreams of a young me, back in the day when I thought I'd raise my family on a big piece of land like this.


Then there is the hike in Joshua Tree National Park.  The one we thought was going to be short, due to misreading the trail head map.  The one that ended up being a quick, steep rise in elevation and then a twisting decent into a long winding roller coaster of a trail ending at an oasis.  Having never been to an 'oasis', we push on.  Every step in the carved out rock stairs filled with pain.  Every step in the dry earth a dust cloud kicked up by leaden feet.  Yet, every yard a victory over self.  And every mile holding another wonder, be it creature, flora, rock or view.  Over and over this hike visits me.  Beckons me.  I'm hoping that I am in better shape now than then.  I hope to be in even better shape the day I take on the desert trail once more.  Until then I relish these memories.  I hold them gently in my heart as the fragile treasure they are.




Heading back down, I've conquered the mountain!

There are other places in Joshua Tree that I hold dear.  Other places that return to me in odd moments, just as there are other places in the United States, other people I have known, things I have done that make up this life thus far.  All of them bits in my mosaic, threads in my tapestry, adding meaning to my ordinary life.  I value them all.

*Note: I am still having photograph/computer issues.  Until they are resolved, I will use old photos, more words and other creative solutions to post here.  Thank you for bearing with me.
Photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2011

11 comments:

Nancy said...

OK, so I can see I have to get used to this moderation thing! I accidently deleted Deb's comment! OOOooops!!!
Here is what she had to say:
"Running my old memories is one of my favorite things, something will trip the switch -a smell, the angle of the light, a tiny set of sounds or a texture and I can let the reel of that moment run and play out, savoring it again."

Ms. said...

You don't need a reason to tell a story--just a photograph, either in your mind, or an actual picture--
and the willingness to find descriptive words to draw the landscape for a reader, the discipline to keep going till the story says it's done, the sensitivity to allow the scene to spark a deeper thought--perhaps more personal reference, like who you were then--and finally the courage to post it here for us to share.

jenclair said...

Deb mentions "the angle of the light" and this is one of the tricks that evokes in my mind certain memories. Of course, smell and music activate memories as well.

I like your comparison to mosaics--fragments, often unrelated, that make up our lives and memories.

Marti said...

Place can reside deep within even if there are no ties, no memory but a blood longing: how do you explain knowing a place when you have never been there before and have no familial connection... In 2006, I went to my heart's landscape, Ireland, and I knew this land. I was one with the mist and hills, the music, the myths and the green of the place. All the more fascinating because my roots are in Spain yet it has never called to me...

Nancy said...

Deb~ Yes, those little nuances that sometimes pass by in the blink of a moment. I like the idea of the memory playing out as a film.

Michelle~ Stories don't always make known the why of telling. Sometimes they just return to the mind again and again, until told. And yes, courage is often involved.

Jenclair~ Ohhhh...yes music is a big one :)
Sometimes things seem unrelated, yet each piece contributes to the whole.

Marti~ This is a beautiful story and I so agree! What a lovely thing, to have found place. Beautiful.

blandina (aracne) said...

I think that sudden memories of the past are like little pearls given to us to make us consider how much road we have walked and how far we have progressed. Not a bad thing, I would say.

Nancy said...

Blandina~ "sudden memories" - nice and yes little surprise gems...it's nice to reflect now and again on our journey.

deemallon said...

I would take the computer difficulties and the spontaneous rememberings as linked processes... funny that they are happening at the same time, isn't it?

If nothing else, perhaps the computer glitch is allowing you to gift your readers with images created out of narrative... I like the pull out near the sea, with its crunch of gravel and invitation to chuck stones over the edge, especially.

Nancy said...

Dee~ Thank you. I have gotten into the habit of letting the photos do the talking. Writing is nice. I like it.

india flint said...

it's good having pictures but even better imprinting them on the mind...so in years to come when the only thing left they will let us drive is the rocking chair
we can have a private slideshow running in our head[s]

Nancy said...

India~ I love the idea of a slideshow in your head! Hopefully I will remember them when I get to that rocking chair!!