Reflecting on Past Times

On Saturday, Joanna Young and I took a wander along the Union Canal in Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful walk and one very close to my heart, as I used to walk along the canal every day to school. Here are a few photos I took along the way…

Swan Reflection in Canal

Messing About On Boats

Canal Society With Reflection

Joanna pointed out that, because it’s a canal, the reflections appear crystal clear, just like gazing into a mirror…  The water was still, the light was bright and the reflections created by this effect were perfect in their symmetry.

As we walked along the gravel towpath, I was reminded of all the funny, childish antics that I participated in along the banks of this waterway.  There was the time that I fell in the canal, just in front of that boathouse, in fact.  I can even remember which top I was wearing at the time of the submersion!  There were dens built in the undergrowth that accompanies the canal, where elaborate worlds were created, and the only limits were our imaginations.  There were epic games of tag played across the park, playing fields and towpath that left us all breathless, clutching our stitch-afflicted sides.  There were whole mornings spent scouring the grassy verges in search of ever-elusive four-leaf clovers.

Watching the reflections on the water and reflecting on my own past…

What environments cause you to reflect on your past, on your present, on your future?  Are there specific locations that induce the state of mind conducive for reflection, or is it more generalised, such as the beach, the lake, the mountains?  What did you reflect upon when you were there last?


May 12, 2008. Environment, Inspiration.


  1. Joanna Young replied:

    That was a fun walk wasn’t it Amy? Glad the pictures turned out so well. It’s another great swan shot.


  2. Nadine T. replied:

    Sad and slightly frightened reflections.

    Last year, I drove across an area in France where I lived and re-visited several times as a child.

    I remember the live hedges, the lakes and general humidity and vegetation of that area. I even remember a horse-driven plough and a farmer broadcasting seeds. That was only 50 years or so ago.

    Now the hedges have gone and the landscape was pretty desolate. Such was the effect of ‘progress’ in farming and land development: people happily pulled out the hedges to make their fields bigger. They were encouraged to believe that it was best for them, and for their future. Now they have ruined their own land.

    Yet… what can we do about it?

  3. amypalko replied:

    Yes, I’ve noticed that I take a lot of swan photos, Joanna. Don’t know why, but they really call to me. I love their grace and their elegance. I love the shapes of the necks and the wings. I love the contrast of their snow white feathers with their bright orange beaks. I love their huge, powerful webbed feet. And I love the transformation that they make from funny fuzzy grey cygnet to the majestic assured white swan.

    It is sad when we return to a much loved location from our childhood to discover it worse for wear, isn’t it, Nadine? I suppose the only comfort that we can take is that the glory it once was will be forever remembered by those that experienced it.

  4. Brad Shorr replied:

    Amy, wonderful photos, as usual. The boathouse looks familiar. Did Joanna ever take a picture of it on her blog?

  5. Sassy Mama Bear replied:

    Absolutely beautiful photos as usual.

    I enjoy being in nature and sitting in the woods allows me to ponder and reflect which I got to do this past weekend on the Boy Scout campout.

  6. joker the lurcher replied:

    i love swans too – your picture is lovely with the orange fence in it. we went on a canal holiday with some friends and i took millions of photos. some of them were such clear reflections i turned them upside down!

  7. soultravelers3 replied:

    Beautiful pictures! I bet you two did have a lovely walk.;) Wish I could have been a fly on the wall to the conversation…you are both so good at that.

    I love swans too and find many of my favorite shots have reflective water in them and swans. How nice to grow up with that! ( I was a rolling stone which suited me).

    I like how the orange compliments the photo. I would be tempted to try to take the photo in a way to hide that “blemish” and I love it when something like that adds to a shot.

    Yesterday we had a lovely day with our dear friends here. We met them on the internet ( I was trying to decide on which digital piano to get for my daughter before coming & so strange that they live near where we decided to winter). They were expats in UK for years ( and Italy for her) so understand the challenges and have been our guardian angels.

    As we drove back, the landscape of Andalusia touched me deeply. I felt like a stranger in a strange land when we first arrived in the fall of 2006, but now it feels like home and I reflected on my gratitude.It looked so beautiful everywhere I looked!

    By walking and living on this land, it has become part of me and the people warm my heart.I love the combination of the mountains and sea, the endless sun and gorgeous winter sunsets, white sugar cube houses, bright flowers.

    We live a life now of few reference points. This area has become a reflective place for us and it will be strange when we do not return here.

    I found myself reflecting on the past in our arrival, our next adventure of 7 months of travel just days away, and looking ahead to when we will head off to even more unknown in Africa and South America.

    It will be sad to say goodbye to Andalusia…. but we will be back for more first. 😉 The vulnerability of a traveling life helps me remember the sacredness of life all around me.

  8. Karen Wallace replied:

    Amy, beautiful photographs, as always.

    I would have loved to join you and Joanna on that walk – what a lovely way to catch up.

    I often think of the parks and reserves near where I grew up where we used to picnic often – with big swings and gorgeous autumn foliage and the cool winter sunshine. Nothing like where I live now. I do miss autumn leaves.

  9. David replied:

    My place of past reflection is my drawer of old toys, school notes & things that I once created.

    Going through the drawer always makes me feel nostalgic. I’ll often rifle through the things in my draw if I feel a bit lost, though nowadays I rarely find what I’m looking for.

    I don’t get to visit my drawer very often because it’s at my parents house. Hopefully I can move it up with me soon.

  10. Dianne Murphy-Rodgers replied:

    Amy, I found you through your Twitter conversations with Joanna, and I’m very glad I did (thanks again to Joanna, who has ‘introduced’ me to lots of lovely people and places!)

    Have spent a happy while this morning immersed in your wonderful words and pictures.

    I lived in Edinburgh for a while, at Crammond, and the city remains a great favourite of mine, thank you for sharing your lovely walk with us!

    Ha! How many hours did we spend looking for four-leafed clovers! I spend a lot of time reflecting on things in my garden and am truly blessed to be surrounded with reflective places, as we live with stunning coastline on one side and gorgeous countryside on the other.


  11. amypalko replied:

    She may well have done, Brad. I’m pretty sure she admires it regularly 🙂

    I’m impressed, Sassy Mamma Bear, that you managed to find the peace & quiet to reflect on a Boy Scout camp!

    Clear reflections are so special, aren’t they, Joker?

    Do you know, Soultravelers3, our conversation was so good that my husband phoned to find out where I was, as we had completely lost track of the time! Thank you so much for sharing your reflections on Andalucia. You are on such an exciting journey and you are so generous to take us all with you 🙂

    We would have loved to have had you along too, Karen! Autumn is my favourite season. I think maybe you should come to Scotland for that walk one October, and we can kick the leaves and hunt for conkers.

    Oh I hope you can be closer to your drawer too, David. It sounds very special 🙂

    I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed what you found, Dianne. Crammond is lovely, isn’t it?

  12. Karen Swim replied:

    Amy the photographs and words were magical. As I read your words and savored the pictures I felt a bit homesick. Moving away from home one of the things I miss is the link to my past. In this new place there are no familiar paths. However, on occasion some subtle detail will remind me of home, the way a tree drapes in front of a home, the crackle of leaves under my feet or even the laugher of children as they board the bus for school. Thank you for reflecting with us Amy and allowing me to mentally visit home.


  13. amypalko replied:

    It’s funny, Karen, as my latest post was all about finding the new in the familiar, and your comment here reminds me of the value in finding the familiar in the new. Thank you, Karen 🙂

  14. Duck of Happiness replied:

    New lurker here – my great-grandmother was born in Stirling. Yippeeeeeeeee!

  15. thecatat7 replied:

    “What environments cause you to reflect on your past, on your present, on your future? Are there specific locations that induce the state of mind conducive for reflection, or is it more generalised, such as the beach, the lake, the mountains?”

    I live a great deal in my head, so I can safely say there is no one place for reflections.

    Btw – I love you photos. I’m in the process of buying a new DSLR so if you have any suggestions, I’m open.

    Swans – I used to take a ton of swan photos. One thing I’ve learned is to stay away from their territories during certain seasons.

    Just like monkeys, they might look cute, but they can be awfully mean.

    Once when I was zooming in on a male, he kept coming at me.

    Closer and closer, I backed off and off.

    Wings spread and beak jabbing, he took after my legs and I took off running. Running way all the way out of the park.

  16. amypalko replied:

    Glad to know of the connection, Duck of Happiness 🙂

    I’m so glad you like my photos, Cat, but I’m afraid I can’t offer any recommendations for a DSLR as I don’t actually use one. I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to afford one (and find the time to learn how to use it!), but until then I’m more than happy with my Fujifilm Finepix Z100fd. Oh, and I think I’d have been running too!

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