Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Forgetting and remembering


Even though I’ve been on this planet for more than half a century now, I’m still surprised at how what happens outside my door every year seems new again when a new season arrives. Last night I was noticing how quickly it gets dark after the sun sets. Twilight seems shorter these days. Once the sun drops behind Nell’s Hill, darkness arrives soon after. This time of year no long twilights allow me to be outside in some degree of brightness for an hour after the sun sets. The sun dips behind the mountain and within 10-15 minutes, it is dark.

Last evening I was standing out in the darkening forest, and the night was approaching almost at the point where I needed my headlamp. Then I looked up. There at the tops of the tall oaks that surround my cabin, sunlight still touched the last of leaves that still cling to the trees. The tallest of the oaks here are white oaks, which can grow to 100 feet. As best I can determine, the oaks in my forest are middle-aged and so are in the 100-125 year old range, which should put them pretty close to 100 feet tall.

What surprised me is that the sunlight that still touched the treetops didn’t extend further down to brighten the woods, at least a little, onto the ground where I stood. But it didn’t. Up there, the leaves get more sunlight, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to see why leaves remain longer on the tallest trees in the forest. But if I knew that or had made that connection in previous years, I’d forgotten it, and seeing the evidence of that last evening made the connection real again.

Each season that I live holds its own treasures of forgetting and remembering. I’m often surprised by the forgetting. I don’t think my memory is any worse than anyone else’s, but until I experience the differences each season brings anew, those older memories aren’t at the top of my consciousness. It takes the actual experience of the new season to pull them back to me again. Today, fall is new again.

6 comments:

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

You are right—we keep seeing and learning…and relearning. Isn't that wonderful?

Cathy said...

yes, sometimes it's good to forget something. However I do keep and journal. so something are remember.

smallpines said...

The process of memory over long periods of time always fascinates me. I think that often, our head keeps things stored the way we need to remember them, and saved for when we need to remember them.

Carolyn H said...

small pines: I love that thought. We don't actually forget, it's just that we don't need that memory of fall or how sun touches the top leaves in mid-winter. When it's time to remember, the memory is there.

Carolyn H

Carolyn H said...

Griz: Maybe a little forgetting allows us to adjust for and appreciate new experiences within the known.

Carolyn H

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: I keep a journal too, though I have no idea who's going to be reading it--other than me, of course!

Carolyn H.