Photographic Memories

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You might remember I mentioned in my last post how I’ve been travelling with family lately.

The first trip was in early November to southern New South Wales, where I visited my sister. She lives in one of just a few cottages which comprise the village, nestled in the lush Bega Valley behind the beautiful Sapphire Coast.

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Main street

I spoke of whelm in my last post, and feel it creeping over me again as I sit to write. What happened while I was there?! It’s three months ago! What did we do, where did we go? So much has happened since. I can hear the woman in my head muttering as she shuffles through files in the memory vault.

If I don’t remember, then was there any point?

I close my eyes and think hard. Feelings begin to bloom. Emotions like love, contentment, joy, concern, tied to shared histories, to family, nature, gratitude. But these are non-specific. Memories have a tendency to blur and telescope. I resort to the photos I have on my PC, still waiting to be organised.

Aha! I think I have it. Looking at the photos, I’m prompted by visual evidence of the time there; the memories flood back. They’re accompanied by other sensory cues. Waking at first light to hear the dawn birdsong, the chill of the early morning air on my skin, the smell of the rich fecund earth, the taste of fresh produce and home cooking, and not least, the warm hugs from family and furry friends.

When I think about the trip this way, the things we did, the places we visited pale in comparison. Please don’t misunderstand me. I love visiting interesting places, completing fun projects and just generally hanging out experiencing a different environment.

What I’m saying is, what lies beyond all that is the reason I went in the first place.  For the deep and significant meanings that memory ascribes to living a life, through our senses and emotions. That’s what I want to remember. And where my memory sometimes falters, my photos have helped me achieve that.

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”
― Eudora Welty

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15 responses to “Photographic Memories

  1. I know what you mean. When my Aussie son and family were over in the autumn, it wasn’t the beaches we visited together that are memorable, it is the time spent together: chatting about everyday things; a hug hello; a kiss goodbye; voices over a dining table; fingerprints on the patio window; memories to be treasured. And yes, the photos of the places help to bring those memories back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You understand exactly what I mean, Jude. Having photos of that time will help you remember all the details you might otherwise forget in the future. I found a photo of a swallows nest we tried to save. It collapsed and fell onto the deck killing one baby while the other survived. Despite best attempts with masking tape we ere unable to restore the nest to its original position and the parents abandoned it. The baby died. . Having that photo reminded me of how we worked together to solve the problem and commiserated with each other when we failed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Robyn, this is such a beautiful post that brought to mind the quote “we do not remember days we remember moments.” It’s so true and you’ve captured the essence of this quote.

    Like

  3. I was thinking the other day how much I love to take pictures because looking at them again evokes the memory of the moment and then I started to think how it would be for all the people who have Alzheimer’s or other dementia never to be able to recall those moments again. I wonder if pictures help? I know — that was random. Your photos are always so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. ;0)

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s sad to see dementia afflicted people lose their memories, Pam. It really underlines how memories are so much a part of who we are, how we construct our identities. Years ago, I was involved with an Alzheimer’s organisation. Families were encouraged to display memory boards of photos in the patients’ rooms. But it was their ability to remember music and sing along without forgetting the song lyrics that I was amazed by.

      Liked by 2 people

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