Take a Walk, Awaken a Memory

Take a Walk, Awaken a Memory

Jacaranda Trees

“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”

Those amazing words are not mine, they were written by poet T.S. Elliot, part of his work THE WASTELAND, in which he invokes that painful sweetness of once again being part of the open world, of wandering a path, of stopping to smell the roses.

Despite everything we have been experiencing, we deserve spring, sunshine, hope. It is why so many writers write about spring—the season of renewal, new birth, plans for change. Spring has it all over New Year’s day when many good citizens are hung-over from partying. And I never got the point of that!


Poets and others write about spring, about scents. In a past post related to Mother’s Day, I wrote: CAN A SCENT TAKE YOU BACK. In the gift of a bouquet I encountered the bloom stock, which carried me back to the florist shop owned by my maternal grandmother’s people. I was back in that shop with its rows of glass doors, behind which you could pick a rainbow of plants, roses and other flowers.

In Bill Bryson’s well-researched book, THE BODY he writes:  “…the olfactory cortex…is nestled close to the hippocampus, where memories are shaped, and it is thought by some neuroscientists that may explain why certain odors are so powerfully evocative of memories for us.”

Has that happened to you? Spring, memory, nostalgia. Writers feel it, write about it. Others go outdoors and walk, run; children skip (masks and all as it is 2021). And yes this spring it might be harder to enjoy those spring scents, but here’s a tip: step off the path, move your mask, get a good nose-full. After all, IT’S time for some re-birth.


I am back in Illinois, living a mile from the home where I was raised. We had a lilac tree in our side yard. We had a garden of peonies up and down our front walk. Spring! Scents!

I know as I walk this neighborhood of memories, there will be lilacs and peonies, roses and lily of the valley.

Pico Iyer, also a writer, was born in Oxford, England, but has the good fortune of traveling far and wide. Missing Southern California, wondering what was now in bloom (the poppies, the jacaranda tress?) I found this on my desk. I save lots of stuff!

“Learning to find wonder everywhere is a talent I can as easily develop—and deploy—close to home as I can in Tibet or Cuba.”

But these are the words I had to save, having lived & traveled to Santa Barbara in springtime:

“Golden poppies will fill the slopes of Santa Barbara this coming spring. From my mother’s home I can spend hours just beginning to count the constellations. Those of us used to the dramatic changes of seasons can see the same shifts play out…and look forward to the jacaranda flowering above the streets in May. (Please enjoy the photo above!)


So what is beginning to blossom and grow in your “neck of the woods.” Here, the grass is starting to green up and there are a few shoots pushing up from their garden beds.


Pico Iyer writes the following, which is TRUTH. Hold it close…

“To travel means, ultimately, nothing more than coming back home a slightly different person from the one who left. That’s as possible in 2021 as it was two years ago. The world is inexhaustible, if only we can open our eyes and look with more care at what we so often take for granted.”

Are you going on a walk today, in the future? Will your eyes well up with gratitude when we are once again blessed with greening and flowering? Mine will.

11 thoughts on “Take a Walk, Awaken a Memory

  1. I will walk again today, with open eyes and heart, taking in the chill of March air, the warmth of March sunshine, and the green pushing up through the brown. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. Saw the first green shoots of crocus yesterday and could’ve cried from happiness. Spring is coming! We all deserve this spring especially.

  3. We still have Spring to look forward to. But the snow is slowly going and, here and there, one can see real grass being uncovered!
    Olfactory memories? Lilacs that rimmed my Parents’ yard. Cats in the old garage. The unmistakable scent of ‘animals’ in the barn. The mud of the river. Sage (that sure scent that says all things ‘prairie’). Beef soup at Gramma’s. Fresh cookies, ditto. The memories just go on and on!
    Thank you, Beth for setting my feet on this path this morning!

  4. You are so welcome. I love your creative spirit. How about peonies and freshly mowed grass.

  5. We are a long way from lilacs where I live. But on my walk today I saw my first robins AND my first crocus. The snow is melting. Bulbs are coming up in my yard. The birds are singing. The signs of spring haven been evident for the past few days, and I am filled with joy.

  6. Lovely! Wish Jacarandas grew up here in Maine. Our maple tree is tapped and producing sap and the birds are singing. We’re hoping the snow will be gone in a day or two and that we won’t get more!

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