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Memory Quest

October 18, 2010


Memories begin here ...


I knew I would be returning to the world of decisions and deadlines Monday morning, so I decided Sunday morning should be spent engaged in a memory-boosting activity. Hiking, specifically. Because the morning was drizzly-sprinkly, I wanted to go to one of my favorite cool weather paths in Riverside: the University of California Riverside’s Botanic Gardens … A study done by the University of Michigan in 2009 showed something I had sensed innately: walking in nature makes a person feel good. But, along with feeling restored and calmer, the researchers found that being in nature can also improve one’s memory by an amazing 20%! To wander amongst trees, etc., is to allow our minds to wander, too — and that’s a good thing for our overstimulated brains. Besides memory boosts, other suspected benefits might be enhanced perception, better problem solving ability and executive function … all things I could use at work. I walk in downtown Los Angeles, between Union Station and The Times’ offices, each day, but the study showed that city walking doesn’t produce the same benefits as walking in a natural setting — all that stimuli from cars, buses, other people and noise, etc. gets in the way. Interestingly, they also determined that just looking at pictures of nature is good for you … not as good as the real thing, but a nice break when the day gets hectic and the mind muddled. So, here’s a gift to myself, and you, as we go into the work week: pictures from a drizzly, cool, Sunday morning, with nature all around …

It’s break time.


With delicate sparkle, rain hangs on needles ...




Cool green, angel's trumpets and a tree that blooms in gold




Fruiting California Buckeye, with rust-red foliage, meets granite




Halfway up the far path, a rustic rest stop waits




Look up the rusty hill and the rocks stare back quietly




Spent, an agave is a ghostly version of its former self




A classic California mix: foliage, terrain and open view




Through the aspen canyon, we take the path to home



These pictures are evocative, but can’t include the sound of collective drizzle becoming full-on raindrops in the trees; their watery patter amplified overhead by a million … nor can they include the cool slap of breezy gusts, or the slippery feeling of recklessness on a muddy path probably too steep for safe negotiation. For those things you have to go outside. From these sights and sounds memories are made — and bolstered!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary permalink
    October 19, 2010 3:06 am

    Hi Reuben!

    It was a wonderful surprise to run into you this evening. Thanks for “sharing the road”!

    The UCRBG’S pictures are splendid. I’ll have to drag my weary body up there soon.


    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 19, 2010 3:09 am

      Same here, Mary.. and you should go — UCRBG is really a very nice hike!

  2. Mrs. Marriott permalink
    October 20, 2010 4:14 am

    Looking forward to hitting the plant sale this weekend. I love that place!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 20, 2010 4:32 am

      Our first Riverside house was literally steps away from the UCRBG, now we’re on the other side of town … I miss it sometimes … the botanic gardens, not the house.

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