Notre Dame fire prompts trip back in time through photos

<p>As the reality of last week’s news of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire sank in, Becky and I began reminiscing about our visit almost 15 years ago to Paris and to the marvelous church. It was an experience that we cannot forget. A memory to hold on to.</p><p>We discussed the sense of awe and holiness we felt as we stepped through the mighty doors and into the great open space and echoes of the nave. We thought of the history and majesty that seem to radiate from the building’s stones. We remembered the narrow climb up the steep steps that led to a dizzying view of the city, a view we shared with the frightful gargoyles we could almost reach out and touch.</p><p>This sharing of memories led us to wonder about the photo images we made on that trip. Where were they? From basement shelves I pulled out big boxes filled with smaller boxes filled with pictures. Alas, there didn’t seem to be much order to these stacks of prints. (Organizing photographs is on my long-term list of projects.) Hmm. Fifteen years ago was when I was transitioning completely to digital cameras, so maybe they are on some digital memory device. I began visually combing through the many USB flash drives we possess.</p><p>Meanwhile, Becky had the sense to look through some photo albums we store on the bookshelf, and, sure enough, we (she) had compiled a memory book of sorts on our first European trip together. The binder included prints of Notre Dame, gargoyles included. At just about the same time, I located the digital images from that vacation. We sat together on the couch and paged our way through the album which included not only pictures, but train tickets, hotel and restaurant receipts, brochures and other memorabilia.</p><p>It was a learning exercise. We realized how much we remembered of the trip, and how much we had forgotten. It was a reminder that looking through old pictures always seems to evoke half-buried remembrances of things past. It also made me remember that disorganized mess of pictures I had dragged out earlier in my search.</p><p>I headed to the basement and approached the chaos of pictures on the countertop, tabletops and chair seats. I thumbed through several envelopes of pictures stopping often to more closely examine. Okay. This will take forever. There are pictures here (mostly meaningful to me) at least forty years old. Some even longer. A plan is what I need. Most of the people pictures will take time, but in other categories some decisions could be quickly made.</p><p>Right off, I see that I have obviously enjoyed taking snapshots of the many dogs that have been a part of my life. My Practical Self wonders, “How many pictures of each canine do you need to jog your dog memory?” I can sense I am in a purging state of mind rather than a nostalgic one, so I’d best take advantage of it by assigning most of these shots to the get-rid-of pile. Just a few choice ones will do. One or two that most fire a recollection.</p><p>Also, outdoor scenes from the houses where I have lived loom large in these accumulations. Snow scenes, spring blossoms, fall colors, nothing it seems has escaped my camera over the seasons. Except for any information written on the back one deep snow looks pretty much the same from year to year.</p><p>The thing with pictures, especially in the age of digital but even before, is to learn to delete. It takes strength for a picture hoarder like me to keep one rather than five. But I want to keep in mind that a picture should be a prompt for a mental re-visitation of a time or person. A short stepping back in time, an almost a physical experience of the past. As if I can almost touch those gargoyles.</p>