Family Lines

stories for you

Month: April 2013

Sounds stir up memories

Road to my home as well as the owl and spring peepers.

Road to my home as well as the owl and spring peepers.

Sounds bring back memories for me and most likely, for a lot of others too. Noise, or lack of noise, connects us to a myriad of flashbacks from happy to sad to scared to whatever you heard and felt at a particular moment. While I was home in Nova Scotia last week the outdoors resonated in my brain and trigged reflections.

Research on linking sounds and memories is being done by the National Institute of Neuroscience in Turin, Italy. Scientists discovered a particular sound, attached to emotional information, ends up being grouped together in the brain as a bundle. The sound paired with the feeling gives it emotional meaning. (This happens with smells too.)

I don’t give this much thought when I’m listening to the wind blow through the trees at home. The window in my bedroom is left open a crack even in the chilly April night so I can listen to the air moving in and out of the woods. The breeze whispers at first and then gusts into a roar that lasts a moment or two on this particular night. It’s a strong sound, one that resembles a vast rushing river. A river in the sky.

When I was younger the wind might last for hours, lashing the house. Pelting snow and ice at us in winter or rain and lightning bolts in the summer. But I was safe. Cozy and warm at home while the tempest took out its anger on the earth.

Another sound that sparks memories is the hoot of an owl. Looking for prey maybe? The bird wakes me out of a deep slumber to say goodnight. Not the same owl as many years ago but the same call to sleep.

Since its spring, the peepers are out. The tree frogs sing for their mates and the cacophony ends up creating a symphony. The sound has marked years of winter’s ends for me. I’ve not only heard the peepers in Nova Scotia but the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta too. Each place has its own set of memories but they all started as a bundle from home.

You cab hear the spring peepers by clicking here.

Memories in a time of sadness

Sometimes making memories isn’t a happy thing, especially during difficult times. But these memories will be shaped by caring and the pain that goes along with the occasion lets us know our capacity for love.

I will be offline, excluding a few Facebook posts and tweets, for the next two weeks. Hope all is spring thoughts.

Slave River.

Slave River in the Northwest Territories.

Springing back into university

Acadia University Hall.

Acadia University Hall in sunny springtime. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Spring has sprung – officially. Unofficially most days in Calgary feel like they’re struggling to understand their new seasonal identity. They haven’t shed winter yet and it’s been snowing and cold for a few days now. There was one day last week when the temperature hit 18 and we could believe warmer weather was coming. That day also reminded me of being in university and about the joys of April.

When you’re in university and the sun starts to get hotter and the snow starts to melt and the green grass starts to show – you break out the shorts. It doesn’t matter that there’s still a slight chill to the breeze, it’s time to chuck those heavy layers and put on something light. The bulky weight of winter is gone and we’re free to move about unrestricted by ice and cold and cumbersome coats and boots.

When you’re in university and it’s spring everyone is in a great mood. Smiling and laughing and telling jokes. Students walk to meal hall with uplifted spirits no matter what’s on the menu for supper. Couples hold hands while strolling around campus and stop to sit and cuddle under a tree. Others get out bicycles or inline skates or baseball mitts. Let’s go outside and enjoy the beautiful day.

Oh wait.

Exams.

I forgot about those.

The one downside to a happy spring collegiate life. That means going back inside and sitting down and ignoring the golden rays bouncing off the bare pavement. Hitting the books instead of hitting a baseball. Studying instead of strolling. Reading instead or relaxing. OK. I’ll cram for a little bit. An hour or two at most but then I’m going outside to sit with my friends in the sunshine and watch the world go by. We’re only young once.

Forming Voices Out of the Noise

My new blog post for This is My City: http://bit.ly/10sakOg

For the past few weeks, I’ve been volunteering with a Calgary organization: This is My City (TMC). TMC brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status because art builds bridges and lessens differences.

Currently I’m part of a TMC initiative that puts visual and theatre artists, musicians and writers as instructors at homeless centres around the Calgary. I’m teaching a four-week workshop at the Calgary Drop-In Centre called Write YOUR Story. Participants learn to tell their tales in their own words.

Part of my volunteer work is to write blog posts for TMC. Here is my first one: http://bit.ly/13ot60D

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