My son is home from college this week, spending his Spring Break recovering from having his wisdom teeth extracted, so we decided to watch a movie together last night. The only one we could agree on was Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”, which happens to be my favorite Hitchcock movie. It’s a perfect union of mystery, suspense and romance, but the most intriguing thing about the film is its exploration of the inner workings of the mind.
In the movie, Gregory Peck’s character witnesses a murder, inflaming his guilt complex from childhood and sending him into full-blown amnesia. Psychoanalyst Ingrid Bergman, who has fallen in love with him, must uncover the root of his guilt complex so he can regain his memory before he’s arrested for the crime. Bergman ultimately arrives at the truth by decoding clues revealed in Peck’s bizarre dream.
Seeing “Spellbound” again made me think about memory itself and about our memories – how they are formed and how they shape us. For example, why do we remember seemingly obscure and insignificant moments in great detail when we have no memory of other, more significant, times? Whatever the reason, I am always surprised and delighted when one of these childhood memories pops into my mind.
Many seem to be triggered by sensory input, because they come more vividly with the change of seasons. There’s a feeling, almost an atmosphere, generated by them that’s very comforting and completely in sync with nature. Now that Spring has arrived, blooming and breezy and bursting forth, I feel myself immersed in that atmosphere and warmed by flashes of memories from my younger days.
The cherry tree in glorious bloom in my front yard reminds me of growing up in the Washington, DC, area, where each Spring my family would drive downtown in our Oldsmobile to see the profusion of beautiful Japanese cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin. When my late husband and I were dating, we would get deli sandwiches from Wagshal’s and drive through the famed Kenwood neighborhood to enjoy the romance of its equally lovely cherry blossoms.
The jonquils, crocuses and irises thrusting up from the earth remind me of the bulbs I helped my mother plant in our yard when I was a kid. I knew every spot where a flower was supposed to appear, and I watched their progress as they sprouted each Spring. When they grew to maturity, my mother would ask me if I wanted to bring one to my teacher. I would carefully pick the nicest one, wrap the base in a wet paper towel covered with tin foil, carry it protectively as I walked (yes, walked!) to elementary school, and proudly present it to my teacher.
Birds chirping in the trees and building their nests remind me of those leisurely walks to and from school that gave me time to think and to appreciate the simple beauty around me. They also evoke memories of all those crayon drawings of different birds I made at school, some of which I still have, which taught me to identify them and appreciate their variety. I loved to discover and observe their carefully built nests, and I mourned over the occasional tiny blue robin’s egg found broken on the ground.
The March breezes with their perfect combination of coolness and warmth bring back the feel of my childhood home with the back door open again, bringing in the scents of damp earth and sweet grass and blooming trees and flowers. Above all, those breezes carried with them the promise of Spring, its vitality sweeping away the cold inertia of winter and offering us the gift of a fresh start. The wonderful reality is that we receive that same gift every year when Spring comes our way. What will you do with yours?
May you spring forward with anticipation, look back with fondness, and enjoy each day fully.