There are a few moments in life that, for whatever reason, we remember with absolute clarity. Or at least we think we do; studies show that our memories are much less accurate than we think. But, I am divagating; the essence of this post isn't about how well or poorly we remember but about how some memories are more alive than others.
Lately, I've had two such memories recurring to me with such pellucidity that I have felt myself transported back to that time and place. The first was in 2001 when we first moved to Nelson, BC from Calgary. We had just bought a 12 acre property in the woods, were newly retired at the young age of 38, and full of energy and enthusiasm to explore the local mountains. On a bright moonlit night with our faithful labrador, Kumo, along, we ski toured around our property and out to the neighbours property. The entire area where we lived was woodland and the full moon lit up the winter night as bright as day. We wandered in and out of the shadows through stretches of dark pine forest, across open fields, past frozen ponds. Life seemed magical and full of mystery. I felt almost giddy with the prospect of endless explorations into the surrounding mountains.
Winter sunset at our property near Nelson, BC
The second memory is much more recent – 26 December, 2012. Doug and I, after a long and stressful time at the Cave, had just left Sydney on the first day of a 9 week road trip. We had driven a couple of hours south of Sydney and launched our new sea kayaks at Tallowa Dam and had paddled upstream along the Kangaroo River to Lake Yarrunga. Within minutes of leaving Tallowa Dam we had left behind all the screaming, half-drunk, semi-illiterate holiday makers attracted by free camping, and were alone. Around 5.00 pm, we found a sheltered little bay with a couple of campsites perched among the river rocks and set up camp. As the sun dipped below low hills opposite camp I realized we were finally alone, out in that magical solitude that only wild places can offer and the essence of which Henry David Thoreau captured so elegantly when he wrote “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
Sunset Lake Yarrunga