Memories and perceptions, do seals remember?

It always fascinates me how memory works, with its associations etc. but I am also quite amazed sometimes by how I perceive, or do not perceive, and so have no memory worth the name at all. I remember (ha ha ) first noticing this ages ago, when a friend talked about being back in Belfast for a brief visit. She had walked past a familiar corner, did the double-take, what a posh shop: “The Feathers Boutique” (its probably gone now too). But she said:

I cannot for the life of me recall what was there before

Well, neither could I. But I too had walked that way hundreds of times. And, I still find this happens, I know something about this street, or that building, or the way you have your furniture now, is different, but 

I can’t picture what it was like before. Not an age thing this (that kind of memory blank is something else) it is something about perception, or non-perception, of the familiar.

There is a lot of that around now on Block Island, particularly on the beaches. Two photos, one from July when the choir stood on the Town Beach Pavilion steps before performing in a beach concert.

And, the same place last week after Sandy, no rails, almost no steps, and masses more sand as this whole area is now under at least 3/4 feet more sand. [I should have taken a picture of the car park where the sand is covering the bike racks and the car spaces no longer exist – Block Island town and tourism board has a winter to decide excavate do something about that.]

I have been taking lots of photos of the beach now, knowing that it is different. In one, the fraction of wooden posts show where the dunes line used to be – these posts were 4 feet above the sand and the ropes strung between them said Keep Off The Dunes. Well, the dunes have gone. The new sand is often BLACK, We always knew about the black sand as some favourite BI beach toys use magnets. Plunge them into the sand and they come up heavily bearded with the black iron, like the iron filings we used to have in science classes. But, now it is layered along the top. There is pink and black too. And in the new dune banks all the layers are exposed.

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I forgot my camera on Monday when I went over to the West Side.

The seals are back!

There they were, at least five on the rocks at Grace’s Cove, flip-flopping and sunning themselves, as they do every winter. They certainly remember how to return.

Did they look at the new beach?

Did they think – hmmm – not like it used to be… what on ocean did that used to look like?


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