It amazes me the power of memory. Our brains have worked a lot like Instagram our entire lives. Tagged, places, people, moments. Instant replay. Memories in a growing feed.
I have names of things that when I hear them I immediately go back to my girlhood. I grew up on a horse farm, undoubtedly living out every girl’s dream, and my mind has this dreamy vintage filter over all of the times I was on my horse riding. (And no, I didn’t get to name my horse, kinda bitter about it. The fact that I was three when she was born doesn’t even matter, @cowboy_horseman.)
I grew up in the Catskill Mountains, the beginning of a lot of story books and the setting for moments in history. Think Rip Van Winkle, My Side of the Mountain, and Woodstock. I grew up in a town who’s very name is technically mispronounced, but back in the day there was no pronouncenames.com to tell them that. Ironic.
I treasure those trail rides on horseback. My mind was capturing sun flares through trees long before it became an Instagram cliché. The woods were painted in rich, brooding colors with the scents of earth and ferns. Aspen, Oak, Maple, Evergreen, Birch. You’ve never seen how rich natural colors can be until you’ve been in the woods after a rain. Robert Frost, come wintertime, got me muttering Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. It was easy to think of Tennyson and Longfellow while riding through the woods with the silent sounds of nature.
Fields of Timothy that caught the wind like waves, slowly being spun from green in May to gold by Autumn. The birds that sang like nobody was watching, Sparrow, Phoebe, and Finch. Daisy and Susan, Queen Anne’s Lace, Aster. Trying to get to the blackberry bushes before the Bears. And the deer. The humble, gentle, lithe deer. There is nothing prettier than seeing a Doe and her fawn laying in Meadow grass.
Maybe I tended to notice these things more because of my intense love for Anne of Green Gables. Ann-with-an-e. She named everything, felt the mysteries of the nature world deeply, and dreamt a lot. I felt like I wasn’t just a kindred spirit with her, but in many ways, felt like I was her. And don’t even get me started on Gilbert Blythe and her kids… Rilla, my Rilla? Yeth. You better believe it, Buster.
You still with me?
For a while I faithfully watched Touched by an Angel, and Della Reese was my favorite. My parents named our border collie Tess. (I still like my Dad’s pick for her, which was Speed.)
One of the sweetest names of all? Sally. The name of my Polish grandma. Written on my heart. She passed away when I was eight. Whenever I see a Gold Finch or a Daisy, her favorites, I think of her.
These are just the skimming of cream off of the top. But they’re threaded into my childhood, and they each hold a special place. And I hope I’ve given you a taste of the fresh mountain air and felt some of the fabric that I’m made of.