Friday, March 4, 2016

Here and There, a (Memory) Visit to Keukenhof

























One of the wonderful and fascinating results of travel, for me, is the way memory grabs certain moments and returns you to them randomly. So that often, you might be in the middle, say, of yoga class, and instead of focusing on the spot that's supposed to help you balance in tree pose, suddenly you are on a road near Keukenhof, biking past fields painted gloriously by a palette of tulips. You see the woman working her way up the driveway, picking weeds as she goes, her little white dog beside her. You puzzle over the breed for a micro-second until the flash that changes species for you -- a little lamb! She's walking her lamb. She turns and smiles broadly, obviously recognising your thought process, your surprise, your delight. She says a few words you don't understand, and you offer a greeting in return, then gesture for permission to take a photo. She grants it, but turns her back to keep the lamb as your focus, still gripping the dandelions in her hand. . .

It's all there, the complete sensory memory, so much so that the air temperature seems to drop in that warm yoga room, the fresh influence of the North Sea keeping our jackets tightly fastened despite the March sunshine, the flowers blooming. The feel of the handlebars on the old-style rental bike, having to pedal backwards to brake, the frustration as we confronted a sign at a crossroads and compared it to the small paper map directing us to the dunes, the resignation as we recognised the wrong turn we'd taken, the family we passed along one path, the one busy intersection we had to navigate when my bike reflexes struggled against the reality of a pedal brake and a brief rush of adrenaline ensued.

Yes, I've written about this day before, and even that writing, of course, was a filtering through memory. But this moment, of all the sights and experiences of that visit to Keukenhof, is the one that returns. Only for a moment, a compression of dozens of seconds into perhaps three, and then I'm drawing attention back to my breath, back in my body where it is, in all its materiality, corporeality. It was a lovely visit, though, an unexpected continued return on a flight I paid for six years ago...

And I thought I'd share it (again), and ask you, as we head into the weekend, and Pater and I head to Vancouver (Madame Butterfly and some grandkids time), If you experience the same phenomenon from time to time, memories ambushing you, commandeering you back to some other place and time (I wish those verbs were kinder ones, but the sensation is so involuntary that I can't think what other words might fit -- immersing?).  If so, are there particular scenes that recur? Or a variety? Or is the experience more general? I'm thinking particularly of memories drawn from travel, that testify to the ongoing change "elsewhere" effects in us....




24 comments:

  1. Fascinating!
    Little memory gems,so precious,just jump from the past,they are here for a while and then they are gone.
    But not this one :-)
    Dottoressa

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    1. Yes, they're fleeting but more precious for it. . .

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  2. Oh,I have my head in the clouds half the time...and yes, travel memories wash over me frequently. Triggered most often by smells and by certain slants of light.

    That lamb! A memory worth keeping.

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    1. Head in the clouds of another time, another place, yes! Smell is most common, but like you, a certain slant of light will do it, and then it brings a whole feeling with it, and a searching for the place as sometimes the imagery of the light is all the visual my mind's eye/lens chose to snap and record...

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  3. Oh yes, and they come at the oddest times, when I'm engaged in something completely unrelated. Our minds are curious things. A beautiful revisit of your travel memory, Mater.

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    1. I know -- it's "Where did that come from?" Generally, if I sit for a while and pay attention, I can trace the connection -- so maybe that's part of the gift as well, the impulse to slow down a bit...

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  4. I know exactly what you mean . Elephants appearing out of the morning mist in northern Thailand , freshly cooked street food in India & a friendly family sharing their frugal picnic in Turkey - would love to have that lamb as a memory too . The memories do slip & then pop back & surprise me . I always kept travel journals, I'm sure you do too , which I find far more evocative than the photos - it's the little things .
    Wendy in York

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    1. Three lovely memories you sketched and shared there in barely 25 words -- brilliant, thank you! Yes, I do keep travel journals although they've become skimpier over the blogging years, something I'm rethinking...

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  5. What a sweet yet unusual picture ...definitely worth remembering.
    I travel daily via my memories. Often stimulated by a certain scent ...one I wore on a special holiday with my daughter or music ... the cd we played constantly whilst driving form Tahoe to Los Vegas! I'm easily transported to places we've visited. When my children were small, at bedtime we d often lie down, close our eyes and Id start a visit back to somewhere we loved by saying ..for example "we're just walking into the cable car, can you see the mountain? The snow?" then off we'd go! :) hope that makes sense?
    Have a good weekend Frances,
    Rosie

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    1. Rosie, I love this bedtime ritual you created for your children. I wonder if they ever find themselves doing the same thing as adults and whether they'll carry on the tradition with their children.

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  6. My memory is the walk along the coast of Cornwall. ..the bluebells and the scent of wild garlic along the footpath. Travel does build so many memories.

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    1. I haven't been to Cornwall yet, but I can almost feel that walk simply through your bluebells, the scent, and the words "walk" and "footpath" which manage to evoke the kinaesthetic . . .

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  7. What a glorious post. I think you have summed up life. Those snatches of moments that make us. For me a piece of music takes me to a forgotten ancient square in San giminiano, the sun shining, flute playing and me standing entranced by a golden moment that will stay forever. A smell...woodsmoke..brings me to a wander round the walled town of St Malo on a crisp December morning when woodsmoke lingers in the air...oh the power of memories. So important to happiness. B x

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    1. Lovely memories -- thanks for adding them to the post!

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  8. I agree, scents and music take me back to faraway times and places. Woodsmoke combines in my memory with fresh earth and coriander and there I stand on a street market in the Peruvian Andes. And Andrea Bocelli's "Time to Say Goodbye" (which I would find unbearably sentimental under different circumstances) immediately carries me to a beach in the south of Chile (and the era when cars had cassette players): almost dark blue skies, grey pebbles hard to walk on and the icy waters of the Pacific Ocean...
    Thank you for reminding me!

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    1. Oh, cassette players in cars, the particular click of inserting, pushing the button that fast-forwarded. . . and what a memory! Love the way that Bocelli rendering became palatable in the circumstances...

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  9. Lovely piece (& v v cute lamb). Music, smell, taste work,yes, but for me the most precious memories are of fleeting encounters (such as you describe indeed). For instance, the German woman who sat beside me at a Christmas concert in a church in Wurzburg - she had no English, I had no german, but somehow, out of shared interest & mutual goodwill, we struck up a conversation which stands out in my memories of that particular trip.
    Rosemary

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    1. They feel so real, even years, decades later, those momentary connections, don't they? They transcend language or the need to know things about each other but somehow get to our humanity, recognised. So redemptive when they happen somehow. Thanks for helping me recall some of my own similar memories, Rosemary.

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  10. Yes , sudden complete re-immersion !
    But not travel memories . Instead , weird moments when I can feel the railings at my back , waiting with my scooter to cross to the park . Or a drawing of crosses on doors ... or a daisy-print on blue cotton ... shiny specks in a grey stone sea wall and blood . A wooden ladder ...
    Bubbles from childhood with no real back-story .

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    1. Bubbles -- the perfect analogy. Soap bubbles, material and ephemeral at once. . . So precise and individual and somehow important and also ultimately unshareable at core...

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  11. Oh yes - I experience this ALL the time. And given that my memory is pretty bad, it's odd how I experience it - it's feeling and brief images rather than true recollection.

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    1. Yes, and somehow you can feel the feeling, so precisely, but it's escaping recollection just as it nudges you towards, right? So odd, so cool, so frustrating...

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  12. Frequently it seems. I am here, and then I am gone somewhere, sometime, as if no time has passed. Only to return. Beautiful post.

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    1. Thanks, Mardel. As if no time has passed. Indeed.... (and thank you for the comments on earlier posts, which I've read but won't manage to comment on -- life's a bit rambunctious right now...

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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