Many years ago (twenty-five years at least, it’s hard to remember), I made walking sticks for our family of four from the sturdy branches of our Modesto Ash tree that shades the patio table. With help from the boys, Graham and Miles, we selected just the right length and girth of each branch to match each family member, then cut them, trimmed them, sanded them, and coated them with a shiny spray of lacquer to protect them.

We used them on many hikes throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and took them with us on long-distance camping vacations in our Westfalia VW Camper. One of the sticks was lost or stolen at Topanga Sate Park (Annette’s I think it was). I believe the boys may still have theirs, I can’t be sure.

But mine…well, it’s become a treasure trove of memories for me.

Walking Stick 2

Click to enlarge.

Look at all those city medallions! (Also called Escutcheon, Coat of Arms, Heraldic Shield, Village Medal, Town Emblem, etc.)

I’ve collected each one of these from the places Netty and I have traveled together, and some from locations I’ve visited alone. I remember Venice and Switzerland from the first time our family vacationed in Europe. And England, of course, is redolent with sights and sounds, and France and Germany still sparkle. I remember the mountains of St. Moritz from a solo trip I took coming back from Saudi Arabia (not much hiking going on in the desert apparently, so no medallions from there).

St. Moritz

Click to enlarge.

Oh, there are countless of memories on this stick of mine…from my hometown of Lincoln, from Amsterdam and Salzburg, from Devon, Blois, Vienna, Baumholder, Rome, Florence. And still others from across the United States…New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada, Maine, Washington, Oregon, California, Roanoke Island, Hawaii…on and on they go.

faded 2

Click to enlarge.

And yet, like all memories, time takes its toll. Images dim, actions recede, and events can disappear altogether or blur into one another and confuse. So too have some of the medallions begun to fade, to dull, to crack, and to finally vanish completely.


Click to enlarge.

On the hand, some of these medallions, especially the strong metal ones, remain as crisp today as when I bought them. Like a vibrant memory from the past (the bloom of love, a first kiss, a marriage, a newborn child, a child’s marriage), time is powerless to unravel the thousand threads that such memories weave.

There is, however, another concern that has lately crept into my thoughts…memory overload. As Netty and I plan our next trip this summer to Europe, I wonder if I’ll run out of space for new medallions. My stick is pretty full already, and we’re headed to Bordeaux and Poland and the Czech Republic, all countries that have traditions that go back centuries with all sorts of heraldic history and the attendant royal coat of arms that go with them. Will I have to overlap one medallion on top of another, much as memories blend and reconvene to become inaccurate versions of our life?

And what of my mind itself? Is there a limit to what it can hold? Do the sizzling neurons and dendrites collapse under the weight of too many experiences? If so, how close to that limit am I already? Or can it go on and on forever? Oh dear, there’s no use worrying about something so silly I tell myself in the wee small hours of the morning. Better to let my wrinkled brain take care of itself.

And as for the limits of my precious walking stick? Well, our backyard Modesto Ash is coming into full Spring bloom as I write this post, and it’s looking as healthy and sturdy as ever. I’ll just keep an eye out for a suitable, larger branch should one become necessary.

To see more medallions from my walking stick, click the link below. Oh, and check out the P.S’s at the bottom of this post…I’ve got a couple of updates for you.

Walking Stick Memories


P.S. 1: In answer to last week’s question…Love was fantastic. Flooded with memories and joyous with music.

First Periwinkle Blom

Click to enlarge.

P.S. 2: My first little, delicate bloom from my Periwinkle appeared yesterday with another on its way. See Oh My Periwinkle to read about my valiant efforts to fight off Raccoons and save my Periwinkles from destruction.


One Response to Walking Stick Memories

  1. Mary Mallik says:

    What a magnificent walking stick !! Looks like you might need to replace ‘Lincoln Castle’ though (on your summer trip, perhaps?) Give Lincoln a ‘Hoi’ from me if you make it !
    Love to all from ‘Downunder’, Mary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.