Sometimes it's possible to recapture a moment in time by revisiting the place where a feeling or emotion was 'set', almost like seeing a familiar ghost except it's something much better, deeper and more personal. It can be happy or sad but is, I find, usually somewhere in between the two, bittersweet but in a good way, memories of a time gone but not completely lost or out of reach.
Recently I returned to a rather beautiful place in North Wales, Llanwrst in the Conwy valley, somewhere I have visited several times in my life and one of those very rare places that seems unaffected by time and the world. There is a wide river there which gently flows through the quiet valley as it has done for centuries. An ancient stone bridge, reputedly built by Inigo Jones, crosses the river and now seems burdened by far too much traffic but if one walks just a few hundred yards along the riverbank then the pastoral scene is just as it must have appeared to the many nineteenth century painters who captured this landscape so beautifully in colorful oil paintings that still hang in dusty gold frames on the walls of hotel foyers across the region.
In the past when I have been there I have watched trout leaping in and out of the water, full of sheer joy born from just being alive.
Very recently I went back and this time although there were no trout, the river was busy with ducks and the river bank was filled with the nodding flower heads of pink and white Himalayan Balsam.
I made my way to the very edge of the river and watching the water lap at my feet I was suddenly young again. Nothing had changed, I felt the same as I had when I came here for the very first time as a child with my mother and father, my sheer delight at spotting the tiniest fish fry darting in and out of the shadows near my feet. There was no such thing as time. And I was happy.
My heart cries for the generations to come. Such places are becoming more rare and when they no longer exist then, I wonder, where will happy memories be made? If we can't remember times gone by with a melancholic sigh and a smile and if we lose the ability to recapture the feeling of youth then the soul will just give up and die. I'm glad I live now in a time when going back is still - just - possible.
" ...there is no such thing as time, only this very minute - and I'm in it - thank the Lord..." Joyce Grenfell 'Time'
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