The Light Keepers – Memory and Imagination

by | May 2, 2021

Light Keepers. Oil painting of 7 gulls on beach in a rainbow of colors, by Daniel Ambrose

The Light keepers, oil on linen.

They came down from the sky to alight on the shore, and left their hieroglyphic tracks pressed in the sand. I followed them to the sea.

They gathered in the shoal where decades ago my children played as toddlers. The surf receded, the clouds parted, and the sun displayed her spectrum of colors on the wet sand. A moment later residual water evaporated, and the colors vanished.

Seven birds suspended in hues of splendor and grace. For a moment past and present interlaced in a beatific trinity of color, experience and happy memory. A flash just long enough to germinate an idea for my painting, Light Keepers.

I visited my good friend Wally last Sunday. Memory, he said. Of all the moments of our lives, why do we suddenly remember a moment from decades ago? What causes us to remember that one particular moment?

What will kids remember when they have their eyes glued to a screen all the time, unaware of their surroundings? Will their memories be of virtual rather than natural worlds?

As we sat on his back porch overlooking the water, I studied my oldest friend’s face for a moment. His daughter Emily sat beside him, his cat Loki curled on a chair in the corner in the April afternoon sun. I wondered if any of us would remember that Sunday afternoon.

Perhaps moments are like transient tracks of birds. Lost to time unless someone takes notice. Do birds and cats have memories?

My earliest memory is from the age of 2 or 3. My younger sister and I shared a room with a colorful parakeet. And I remember walking home from kindergarten at the age of 4, aware of all the wild birds. Perhaps it is why birds have always fascinated me.

I wonder what my children will remember of their youth.

How about you? What are your earliest memories?


  1. Annie

    I remember as a 4 ye old, a bad fire got out of hand and big orange flames lit up the dark sky across the hill from our house. I was so afraid. Mom huddled all 4 of us yong children close to her, even though I know now, she was afraid also. She opened her Bible and read to us, Psalm 100. I later memorize that chapter and today when I hear it. It brings back those memories. Precious bygone days
    Love reading of your experiences. Stay safe and happy memories

  2. Dianne Cavarretta

    I remember as kids playing in the sand dunes. Forts were built, scavenger hunts always unearthed a conch shell or two and they went on for miles and miles. And all the beautiful sea oats that spanned along those miles of dunes. Now it’s almost impossible to find a sea oat and the dunes have become motels. Memories warm your heart and make you feel young again!

  3. nancy bush

    Lovely memories and some good questions to ponder.

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