spring and forgotten memories

Google says this is a cherry blossom. I didn’t know that, though I’ve watched these trees for years. I can tell you that the hyraxes love the fruit. I haven’t tried them myself… yet.

When my dear old mother was in her 90s, she used to preface many a story by mentioning what a fine memory she used to have… but it was gone now. Every time she would say that, it saddened me. Why did she have to say that over and over again. I knew she had had a fine memory once. I knew that she had lost much of it. Was she trying to excuse herself for her lapses? Was she apologizing? Whatever it was, I wished she wouldn’t mention it then, because it pained me to think of the decline. After all, I was moving into old age myself. It could have been that she didn’t remember she had said that to me many times before.

wild grasses growing on a vacant lot near my home

Now it’s my turn. I have begun to lose memory… though my doctor tells me its nothing to worry about, and that the process begins at about 30, at this point I have just begun to be aware of it. I always had a catalogue of my photography, but for many years it just catalogued which photos were shot for which customers and where the negatives were. Then at some point, I started recording where certain ‘art’ photographs were. I didn’t really have to because I remembered just about every photo I had shot, and when… but since I had a catalogue anyway, I started writing down where the negative or digital file was kept. But there were so many pictures, that there was no point in writing down everything. So I just wrote down the ones that I thought I might look for later.

the redbud tree flowers at the beginning of spring

Then this morning, I was planning to write about early spring. There is one scene that typifies the very start of the season for me. It is when the very first shoots of grass push out of the dirt on the barren hills of Benjamin or in the northern Negev. It doesn’t look so much like grass from up close. It isn’t that dense. But from a distance you can clearly see the green color on the hills. I know I’ve photographed the phenomenon many times… but looking for it this morning, in albums and in my catalogue, I was unable to find an example. It’s not the first time that has happened. Sometimes I want to write about something, and look for a good illustration… and though I remember a specific photo, I am no longer able to remember where it can be found in my archives.

snap dragons growing out of the stone wall

Today, the failure of my search for that example distressed me. I started wondering, what would I do if I could no longer find the photos I needed as illustrations. Was this reason enough to stop writing? And then it occurred to me, that I could work the other way. I could look through my collection of photographs, and find a few that brought back memories… This time, I’ll  share some pictures from last week. The holiday of Passover is just a week ahead. And for me, that is springtime at its best. These are the signs of spring in my immediate environment.

I’ve also included this old picture of Nechama enjoying the wild grass that used to grow behind my old home. It’s a fond memory. Like her, I’ve always preferred wild grasses, though their season is relatively short in our country.


65 responses to “spring and forgotten memories

  1. I can’t remember too dear Shimon and I don’t know should I worry about this… Some memories still in my mind, but sometimes, I can’t remember the details… I have been looking for a book, and I searched everywhere in the city, the bookstore owners say that there wasn’t anymore of this book. I was so sad. And I started to seach in second hand stores. But one day, when I try to order my library and desk, I saw the book that I was looking for. It was in my library and waiting for me to read.. I couldn’t believe myself.

    Spring is beautiful…. I loved your photographs, in here, there is a very strange weather this morning, a dark yellow sky fell in the city. as they explained it will rain with dust…. And snow entered from the Balkan side to my country… does it reach to here I am not sure. Because our city, as they explain, is a heat island for snow!

    Anyway, it is nice to talk about the memories, spring, and your lovely cat. Thank you, have a nice day and weekend, Love, nia

    • Your story of the book, dear Nia, is very familiar to me. I have had similar experiences. This is nature. Just as a tennis player can’t play as well at 60 as he or she could at 30, it is much the same with the capacity of the mind. It helps when we exercise. But just as the autumn leaves turn yellow, so the human body gets wrinkled and saggy… and the mind does too. I refuse to ignore the problem. But I know that this is nature, and that the best thing is to use methodical help, like making lists or catalogues, and putting tools in the same place every time so we can find them. I know that dark yellow sky and the dust. I didn’t know that you had it in Turkey too. But we certainly get it here from time to time. Thanks for your comment. love

  2. I think you’ve hit on a fine idea: find the photos that speak to your heart and mind and address the ways this is so, simply or on many levels.

    I never organized my photos well. I titled the groups of photos, but individual photos I’ve loved are lost in those titles. It’s fun to come across them, but I don’t fret about it too much when I can’t locate one I want. I think the loss of memory can haunt us, if we let it, but it can also invite us into the present more profoundly.

    I love the photo of grasses and of Nechama. The redbuds are so invigorating…still waiting for blooms here, but the birdsong has swelled to a very chorus welcoming spring. 🙂

    I wish you a Passover blessed with gentle peace and sweet companions.

    • I agree with you completely, Kitty. I wrote about this problem, because it is something I am struggling with. But at the same time, I know it is natural, and there is nothing we can do against it in old age, except to be as methodical about things as possible, so as to avoid accidents. As you say, what’s important is the present, and we always have that. Thank you for your good wishes. It is a beautiful season, and I’m doing my best to enjoy it.

  3. Chag Sa’meach!
    I spent this morning looking for some receipts for income tax…
    Where did I put them? I’m sure they’re supposed to be in the bottom drawer!
    Alas, they’re not there. It must be my husband’s fault…

    • Yes, you’re right to blame your husband, Rachel. I blame my friends or my cat, or even aliens… never did believe in aliens, but now that I don’t find things or find things where they’re not supposed to be, I can understand those people who worrying about aliens all the time. From what I’ve learned about the subject, the best thing to counter the disadvantages of old age, is humor… and let’s not forget… there are a few advantages too.

  4. It sounds like an excellent plan. I’ve been dealing with paperwork for the house, and somehow I seem to have missed a whole year (I was so convinced the boiler was serviced last year in May, and it was in 2016!). Beautiful pictures. Here it’s a big contrast. We had heavy snow last weekend and we have flowers and bits of snow still… What a strange spring!

    • I don’t know if I dare say that we were lucky this year that we didn’t have a hard winter… because there’s really a problem of drought here. We do have desalination plants that are quite successful, but that gives us drinking water, etc. There is still the problem of wild life, vegetable and animal. I’m sure your spring will be along pretty soon. And it is such a wonderful time of the year. Thanks Olga for your comment.

  5. Oh, Shimon. The things we forget. But then they often come back to us if we give them a little time to emerge. I like to think that the reason data access is so slow is because my mind is brimful with information and observations, and the conscious mind has not catalogued it very well. But you found an excellent solution – starting from what you could find. Lovely Nechama on that juicy grass. I also love the snapdragons growing out of the wall – a good metaphor for our own continued striving and determination to keep on keeping on. Old age? What old age?

    • You’re right, Tish. Things do come back to mind. Often, I wont be able to think of a word or a name… and then after a half an hour… or sometimes much longer… it comes back to me. Actually, it’s a general problem. Just as the muscles gets weaker, the teeth are fewer, the mind loses some of its focus. I try not to ignore things… even if they’re unhappy news; to deal with life as it is. But I realize that this is nature. And I realize that life is still very good to me, so I’ve no reason to complain. We’ll take our inspiration from the snapdragons.

  6. If it’s any comfort, I recently read and article that stated as we age it isn’t so much we forget as we keep gaining knowledge and the brain has to prioritize what stays at the fore. The old memories are there but more difficult to access simply because of volume. Instead of searching through a single file cabinet, we’re searching through a room full of file cabinets. Your solution to start with the pictures is wonderful. I look forward to new adventure. That first picture popped onto my screen and took my breath away.

    • Yes there’s definitely something to that, Judy. The mind is sort of like a store room, and the things we use regularly are close to the door. It’s those things that are way back in a corner, that are hard to remember when we need them all of a sudden after we haven’t used them for some time. It isn’t terrible, I’m just sharing what I have to deal with, the bad with the good, occasionally. Thanks for your comment and encouragement.

  7. Yes, by turning things upside down and we can flow with it a different way. I hope you do keep writing dear Shimon. I love your pictures. Hugs for you. Xx

    • Thank you very much, Jane. No, it’s no tragedy. It was just the frustration of not finding something I knew I had, that got me down. But such things probably happened now and then when I was younger too. It’s that I realize that I am in my decline… and that this is the way of nature, that saddens me at times… and so I share it with my friends. But it is my path to accept reality. xxx

  8. These photos are so beautiful and refreshing. It’s nice seeing the green grass and blooming trees when everything is still snow covered and brown here for a bit longer. Thank you for reminding me that spring and flowers will come again soon 🌱

    • Yes Kari, spring is coming, and with it flowers, and new shoots in trees, bushes and grass. And I know some children who are envious of your snow. We haven’t had snow at all in Jerusalem this year. And you know… we always want what we don’t have. But right now the spring is like a cat, waking from sleep, and stretching its limbs. There is a lot to enjoy.

      • I love your illustration of the cat…what a fun way to think of spring coming in. I hope you get snow to enjoy next year…and maybe we’ll get a little less to enjoy 😉

  9. I forget things, a lot. It started a long time ago. I used to say that I had an excellent memory until I became a mother then I had to concentrate on the children so I forgot a lot of things. I still remember a lot of details about a lot of things but there is so much I have forgotten. It’s very frustrating, especially because my father had alzheimers and it scars me that I may get it.

    • I can understand the fears, Corina. But I think that what works best, is using what we have. Exercising is very good. Not too much exercise, because we don’t want to strain ourselves… but just to keep in shape. And just as a daily walk can really keep us in shape, the same thing with the mind. As long as we use our head now and then, it’ll work. I think blogging is good exercise for the mind. You do that very well.

  10. Being a photographer, I sure share your problems of disorganized photos. I find it unique that we remember the details around every shot we’ve taken, and now we try to rely on that to find the darn things. And for sure I know why your mother kept repeating that. Because it HURTs. I experience a physical pain. I had such a wonderful memory, I could brag about it (but didn’t) 🙂 I had the sad experience of an x getting about 1/2 of all my slides, as the judge decided she needed them more than me. That was definitely a changing step in my life.
    Your photos are very nice, and I like the cherry blossoms most of all.
    Stay Healthy…take memories.

    • That is really a horrible story, Bob, losing half of your slides to your ex. I think that would make me want to lose my memory. I would have thought that slides were considered ‘personal property’, but the truth is that dissolving a partnership or a marriage is always the most painful process a person can endure. It’s like the amputation of a limb. What can we do? We have to learn to live with change… and find something worth living for every day. thanks.

  11. I think that’s an excellent idea to go through the photographs first….they will jog your memory and you will know what to write. I find that visual stimulations is key for me. I have always found learning new languages quite difficult….but when I turn the words into pictures in my mind’s eye, then information seems to sink in…..
    I love the pictures of the blossom – the wonderful freshness of spring. I am thinking of you as you prepare for Passover. Janet x

    • I thought it would work. But you know, Janet, I have something of a contrary nature. Just because I couldn’t find this picture I thought of (as the best example of what I was thinking about), I just wouldn’t give up. For about an hour, I had all the juices of youth, and was ready to bang my head against the wall. But for the long distance, I prefer moderation and logic, and it’s true that looking at pictures brings back a lot of memories and a lot of thoughts. thanks for the Passover wishes, xxx

  12. You are still a very brilliant man dear Shimon.

  13. You are still a very brilliant man dear Shimon.x

    • Thank you Charlotte. Always so good to hear from you. I know, we all have certain unique qualities, that our friends see in us… and enjoy. I had friends who had it worse, and still we found reason to celebrate. I had a good life, and I’m still enjoying myself, so I have to take the bad with the good. Best wishes to you too.

  14. Memory is a precious thing – so losing it bit by bit has to be horrible. Be strong Shimonz … be strong and do what you can!

    • You’re right Frank. It’s hard to see the process. But I prefer seeing it than to ignore it. And I know it’s just nature. The natural process of life. Did you ever read that story, ‘Flowers For Algernon’? I read it more than 50 years ago, and I remember I saw it as an allegory for the life of each one of us. It touched me deeply. I’ve enjoyed the heights, and now I’ll try to find joy even in my decline. Thank you for your kind words.

  15. Lovely photographs friend Shimon … so much appreciated as is still white in white here … and memories are lovely as long as they are not night mares, hmmm? Wishing you a very happy Spring 2018. Love, cat. PS: Nechema is precious … I know my Theo is enjoying grass as well … and is also a catnip addict …

    • I see I have quite a few friends who live in the northern latitudes where it is still cold and white. How good it is that I can share some flowers with you. But I’m sure you’ll get your share pretty soon, cat. My best wishes to Theo. How nice that he enjoys his catnip. Nechama seems very bent on eating what I eat… even though I can offer her better stuff. Sometimes she’ll take the better stuff as a supplement. May we all have a very good spring.

  16. I can sense the distress on your writing and I feel for you. Memories might be similar to that snapdragon shooting out from a wall that would suddenly appear out of nowhere. Unfortunately, our memories are not as perennial as the grass. Like you, I know I have a photo of our parliament building taken at night but for the life of me, I cannot find it on my hard drive. There is no reason to stop writing. Please.

    • I try not to take these disappointments too seriously, Perpetua. I’m a realist, and I’m aware of the processes of nature. I just wanted to share this with my friends… because we share here, and it doesn’t always have to be the most beautiful things. Better a balanced view of life, with the hardships along with the heights. I have always had a special love for roses, and I’ve kept some dried ones too, and cut the stems short when they couldn’t stand up any longer… like the flowers, so the monkeys… We have to learn to accept the processes of nature. Thanks for your sympathy.

  17. My sister and I recently spoke about the softening of our respective memories – that which was sharply focused in our brain, seems to have blurred a bit, making some things more difficult to retrieve. Ironically, I went through old photos with her, and the exercise evoked some thoughts that had never surfaced before.
    In short, I think it will be enriching and interesting to reverse the process – pictures first.
    And to me, Shimon, your recall is remarkable, the talent to follow a thread from one passage to the next finely honed. If you have lost anything, my hunch is that you will rediscover it via another path. Be well…

    • Actually Mimi, I think I see the problem mostly related to things I don’t think about much. As long as I was working professionally, I had everything connected to work readily accessible. It’s been some time now, that my pace has become more relaxed, and my thoughts less directed. I think the word you used in discussing memory with your sister was just right, softer. But it’s all part of the natural process. There is so much I still enjoy, so I don’t worry most of the time… thanks for the encouragement.

  18. I loved your images.I find that when I am concerned about my heart I feel every little twinge in my chest and jaw.In the past I would have ignored them or not even noticed.Similarly after reading about dementia I get upset when I go upstairs and forget why.
    Still we do have to face up to the reality and find other ways of dealing with these issues like keeping a diary entry of where we put things when we tidy up or have got a new item
    The cherry blossom is my favourite.There is a beautiful tree nearby but my neighbour complains the blossom falls on his car and says he wishes the flowers were plastic
    That makes me realise there are sometimes unbridgeable gaps between people even from those who come from the same background.It took my breath away

    • I remember reading once, a study on memory, in which the researcher spoke of memory as being connected to context. He said that sometimes a person might think he wants something, and go from one room to another to get it. But since the thought was connected to an experience in the previous room, going from one room to the other might disconnect him from the thought that caused him to go to the second room. It turns out that this is a common occurrence and shouldn’t be seen as a failure of memory. There is a remarkable difference, it turns out, between short term memory and the long memory we have. The short term memory is dependant mainly on the fluids that enable electric communication within the brain between the cells, where as the long term memory is ‘written’ in the cells of the brain. In a way, the computer serves as a model of the mind. The important thing for us is not to fear anything. It is such a miracle that we are alive in this world, and has been for each of us since we came. And no matter how much we know, there is always so much that we don’t. How wonderful it is, just to appreciate what we are able to perceive and enjoy. Thank you very much for your comment, Anne. How wonderful it is that we are the recipients of this technology that allows us to share in our appreciation of real cherry blossoms.

  19. Hello Shimon,

    The reply to your post that landed in your trash, may have done so because I sometimes reply using my iPad. There could be other unfathomable reasons of course.

    Your white Cherry Blossom is gorgeous, There is also a pink Cherry Blossom, and I wonder if the distant shot of the pink blossom tree you show us, is it.

    Memory can and does trip us up. I congratulate you for creating sensible catalogues all those years ago. My ideas from way back were not so tangible, it becomes more and more, a hit-and-miss as to whether I find what I can remember tucking away. I too, have been thinking about refining my innumerable collection of pictures. Uninterrupted time is needed to do it and an uninterrupted schedule for doing the job.

    I find writing posts and commenting on others’ posts keeps my brain ticking over, it challenges it sometimes (good). It would not be something I would easily give up. I believe blogging does have an important place in maintaining cerebral health and flexibility.


    • Yes. We do have the pink cherry blossoms too, that appear at the same time the white flowers adorn our public facilities. But those trees look just as do the trees with the white blossoms. The redbud tree that I captured on the corner past the crosswalk is known as klil hachoreshin Hebrew. It’s scientific name is Cercis siliquastrum, and it is very popular here, and seen throughout the country. I have heard it referred to as the redbud tree in English. It is also called the judas tree.

      I agree with you menhir, that the best vehicle we have for preserving our strengths is to use them. I can’t really take much credit for my photo catalogue because I was a professional photographer long before computers became our most common tool, and it was necessary to catalogue the photographs in order to find them for my customers. But blogging is certainly an exercise which keeps us thinking, as walking can keep our muscles in tone. I fear that some of my readers thought I was hinting at alzheimer’s or senility, but what I’m discussing is not a sudden disease but the slow deterioration of one’s capacity as we grow older. In a recent physical check up, I discovered I had lost 3cm of my height. I was always a tall man, and I remain tall, but shorter than I was once. this is just nature. x

  20. I agree with Judy’s comment. Personally, I truly believe that if I can’t remember something at the moment, it’s just because my mind is too full.

    • Yes I agree both with you and Judy. We store a lot of information in our heads, and it gets to be more and more as the years pass. And what you say about remembering at the moment is true as well. Once things would come to me instantly, and now despite the frustration of not being able to think of a name I want, a lot of these forgotten memories come back after an hour or a couple of days. Thank you Carol for your comment and your encouragement.

  21. Well, to me you seem to have a very good mind.I am don’t know you are exact age but you seem better than the majority of my older friends.And you found an alternative method to write.I’d say that’s a very positive attitude.Some people go to therapy to learn CBT and that probably is what they would recommend.
    I like the photos of you cat in the grass.My cats used to eat grass if they felt sick.They also used to try to catch frogs.I saw a frog in the bottom of the pond playing dead.But the cat took ill and died and I was distraught.
    I like the cherry blossom the best because after winter it is the most amazing cheerful sight.I hope to read more of your excellent writing.

    • Thank you for your comment, John. I certainly can’t complain. As I said to menhir above, it seems that some readers might have thought I was hinting at some terrible disease. But in fact, I was just discussing the natural erosion of one’s capacities in old age. It is not terrible. I don’t think I’m in need of Cognitive-behavioral therapy. But just as I can no longer go mountain climbing, I need the help of reference books or Google where once I was able to tap my memory for the many things I have learned throughout my long life. But that is nature. My condolences on the loss of your cat. I can well understand how difficult that was.

  22. I find my memory going too, especially for names or words of things. Very frustrating because I’m a crossword addict! But then, perhaps it makes us more resourceful, as you are, when deciding to let the photos jog the memories rather than the other way around.

    • Yes, forgetting a name is quite embarrassing. And I can imagine, that it is hard for the crossword puzzles. I never tried that, and I’ve stopped playing chess, so I’ve become aware of the problem just by noticing it in my own mind… and now the problem of remembering my own pictures. My doctor promised to tell me if he would notice any senility on my part, but as the years passed I realized that I would be the first to notice any change, and so it has happened. Evaluating the change might still be the doctor’s job, but I have already stopped driving a car on my own volition. My doctor says I’m still in fine shape mentally. My problem these days is a weak heart. Thank you Gill for your comment.

  23. Think you have the right idea in taking a picture and writing about it instead of looking for a photo to illustrate your writing. Please don’t worry about forgetting things as everyone does it, even teenagers. Just enjoy each day for the beauty it holds.

    • I think you’re right, Bev, that this is a problem that others have too; even people in the middle of their lives. But we are always most critical of our own problems. A person looking into a mirror, might be very disturbed by a little blemish that others don’t even notice. And when we get old, we have this horror of losing our mental capacities. But it isn’t all that bad for me. I can still usually find a picture I’m looking for… sometimes using my catalogue. It is still rare that I don’t find them. But if that happens, I will go the other way around, using the pictures to stimulate the memories. Thanks.

  24. Hello,
    We do not know each other, but I think you had a great idea to keep your memory running.
    The important thing is to get there. The path that we take for, is less important.
    I send you a lot of courage for the future
    A reader from Paris (France)

  25. I always remember my father saying as he got older, I’ve forgotten more than you will ever know. How true, he lived an interesting and varied life, as you have, but the things you forget, like him are minor. You are as sharp as a knife. I constantly look a plants these days and struggle to recall their names, most frustrating!!! I loved the picture of Nechama, she is such a beautiful cat, she wears her character well. I do enjoy seeing your spring plants and grasses, I enjoyed the wind in the grass and the cherry and redbud. Plants that grow in stone fascinate me. Another marvelous post, so glad you are back, posts like this remind me how much I missed you.xxx

    • Ah Dina, I do remember that song… and I love it. And what you say, with great discretion is also true. It’s not a terrible problem. I just felt an obligation to share my distress regarding the inevitable decline despite the fact that I’m one of the lucky ones. In real life, we always have a good friend who is happy to remind us of our vanity, and other weaknesses. But in this virtual life, we’re holding all the strings and levers. If I don’t tell the story of how upset I get when I don’t remember something, no one else will do it… and someone might get the false impression that the Buddha has actually put up a page on wordpress. So though it’s no tragedy, I feel the need to share it with my friends. Thanks so much.

  26. There have been some fascinating studies that indicate too much focus can be as detrimental as too little, particularly when it comes to memory. So often, when we’re trying to remember something, we work and work at it, concentrating as hard as we are able. But if we relax, the mind begins to roam freely, and often accomplishes what our very effort made impossible.

    That’s one reason that inspiration often strikes when we’re in a warm shower, or drifting into or out of sleep. Many, many times I’ve gone to bed frustrated because I can’t find the word I’m looking for, or the quotation that’s nagging at the edge of consciousness. Perhaps a title doesn’t seem just right, or I don’t know how to clarify a point in a paragraph. If I let it go, I’ll often wake with the word on my tongue, or a perfect title in mind.

    I like to think of it as my mind working the night shift. I can’t find the reference now, but there was a writer — Poe, perhaps, or Dickens, or someone from that era — who hung a sign on the doorknob when he went to sleep. It said, “Poet at work.”

    As for the value of photos, I find that working backwards from them is rewarding. I don’t have that many photos from my family life as a child and youth, but I’ve discovered that from even a single image I can work my way back along the fragile chain of memory, and bring to mind many forgotten incidents.

    I’m doing that with Dixie Rose, now. I have a little pad at my desk, and every time I remember something charming or frustrating that she would do, I write it down, along wtih the other memories that are evoked. Already, I’ve remembered much about those 18 years we shared that had slipped from consciousness. Bringing those memories back is unexpectedly satisfying.
    Perhaps we should approach memories as Nechama does her grass: prowling, rolling, and stretching in them for the pure pleasure of it.

    • Thank you for your excellent advice, Linda. The ways you gave of remembering are very true for me. I get inspiration while in the shower, and often find that a solution to a problem appears when I wake up from sleep. So it seems that what I have to do in such a situation is to relax, and that is what I intend to do the next time that occurs. I loved that sign you quoted, of ‘poet at work’.

      Strangely, I don’t look back much, at old images that I recorded. I used to work completely from memory. I think this might be the right time to look at some of my recorded memories. In the last few years I have reread some of the books that I remembered as having impressed me, and it was almost like reading a new book. I found that in many cases I had changed enough to appreciate those writings from a different perspective. I’ve changed a lot with time… often it seems to me that I am living in another incarnation,,, and so when I go back, I can experience those meetings with ‘old friends’ in a new way. I am glad to hear that you are enjoying memories of times you had with Dixie Rose. There are times when I listen to the songs of a Rabbi I loved; he was called the singing Rabbi, and was one of the very few friends I missed after they had died. Listening to his songs, it was as if he was still alive and sitting next to me, a very sweet experience.

  27. Beautiful photos…loved the snap dragons coming out of the wall! And your writing was very poignant. Touched my soul!

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